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The Centre of New Zealand Walk, Nelson

The Centre of New Zealand Walk, Nelson

Judging by the name, the Centre of New Zealand Walk, on the outskirts of Nelson, must be an iconic place. You’re probably imagining being in the exact centre of the country, or, if you have a more colourful imagination, that you’d head underground (like in Journey to the Centre of the Earth) and see all sorts of magical creatures and psychedelic scenery. It’s neither of those things. The Centre of New Zealand Walk got its name from surveying work done in the 1870s and apparently isn’t the centre of New Zealand at all. Still though, it’s a nice walk, which is why I’m dedicating a post to it.

The Centre of New Zealand Walk

This short hike starts at the bottom of Botanical Hill (the end of Hardy Street) and follows the forest up to a viewpoint at the top of the hill. It’s pretty easy (the sign says it should take 25 minutes to walk up) but it does get steep at the top. It was harder than I expected but if you’ve done any sort of hiking in New Zealand you should be fine.

Botanical Hill, Nelson, New Zealand

There isn’t much to see for most of the way up but as you near the top you start to get some views. You’ll see some of Nelson’s suburbs and the hills surrounding them, but the real highlights greet you at the top.

Views of Nelson from the Centre of New Zealand Walk

The views from the top

Once at the top of the track you’ll get panoramic views over Nelson, from the green hills of the Maitai Valley to the coastline stretching towards Abel Tasman National Park and beyond. There’s a small monument (something to do with the surveying – I didn’t bother to read it) and some seats up there. It’s one of Nelson’s most popular hiking trails (in the city at least) and it’s worth doing. Once you’ve had enough of the views it’s an easy walk back down to your car.

READ MORE: 17 of the Best Things to Do in Nelson

Centre of New Zealand Walk, NelsonMaitai Valley, Nelson, New Zealand

Getting There

The easiest way (assuming you have a car) is to drive to the end of Hardy Street and walk up from there. You can also walk from the city along the Matai River, which would be a good option for those wanting a bit more of a hike. If you’re driving, you can stop off at one of the heritage houses nearby (Melrose House / Fairfield House).

READ MORE: Check out our two-week South Island itinerary!

Other Nelson Hikes

There are heaps of hikes near Nelson. If you’re willing to drive for an hour or so you can head out to Kaiteriteri and Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson Lakes National Park or to the Marlborough Sounds. Closer to the city you’ll find the Cable Bay Walkway and the hike to Whispering Falls. Nelson (or the areas close to Nelson) is made for outdoor enthusiasts and there are hikes to suit every taste and fitness level.

Are you planning on visiting New Zealand? Read our South Island Travel Guide for heaps of tips!

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Jon Algie

I'm a South Island local -- born in Timaru and raised in Dunedin. I left the island in 2006 and returned 10 years later. Having seen a good chunk of the world I realised how special this place is -- the most beautiful island in the world! Seven years (and almost 400 posts) later I'm still helping locals and tourists alike plan their trips around the South Island.