Nelson Market. © Peter Burge

The Nelson market: homemade with heart and skill

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You’re standing in a car park, holding in your hand the best sandwich ever: white bread, butter and a whitebait fritter of unparalleled flavour, texture, lightness and divinity.

The sun rises over the ranges and you think, you know, it’s not all bad, is it? Sunny Nelson, we salute you.

The Nelson Market puts a lot of other markets in the shade which, with Nelson regularly being New Zealand’s sunniest place, stands to reason, really. The Nelson region has long been renowned for the enterprising energy of its inhabitants, too: these laid-back, creative cats are serious DIYers. But we’re not talking about fixing a tap. Maybe manipulating a tap into a work of art?

It’s all on at the Nelson Market, every Saturday in the smack-bang centre of town.

And it’s all on display. From sophisticated jewellery to cheeky critters made of steel; exquisite ceramics to amazing original art. Loads of small portable things for the hardy traveller, objects that will say far more about where you’ve been than some of the more typical tourist trinkets you may have come across. Made here, with heart and much skill. And much cheaper, too! It’s a market! It’s been here for 30 years, and is a tightly run ship.

While there are handcrafts, clothing and other finery, you kinda keep gravitating to the food. The region is plump with produce, and the market brings that to your weary feet. Loads of it is organic, straight outta the ground. The artisanal cheeses, preserves, jams and pickles will surprise and delight with their taste and texture, there are fresh flowers for that proposal down the Nelson pier, and fruit and veges for your kayak burst through the Abel Tasman.

Hang out with loads of real locals and fellow travellers. Eat, relax, be intrigued. Just make sure you get down if you’re in town, stock up, go wild. It’s brilliant.

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