Founder Of Virtas Watches Shares Top 5 Restaurants In Nelson, New Zealand

To keep you fueled from Cable Bay right through to Farewell Spit.

Hey, traveling friends! My name is Scott, and I’m the founder of Virtas; I would love to introduce you to my backyard! Smack bang in the center of New Zealand you will find the vibrant city of Nelson. Growing up here, I never truly appreciated what I had at my doorstep. Tramping the Able Tasman National Park on school camps was the normal thing to do and the golden sands of Kaiteriteri was just another spot to dip your toes.

To me, traveling, even a small distance, really puts things into perspective. It wasn’t until I moved away for a few years that I began to appreciate home and everything that it had to offer. Nelson is known internationally for its world class beaches and walking tracks (as mentioned above) and is a popular spot for travelers looking to experience a slice of Earth’s true beauty.

Of course, all this exploring requires appropriate replenishment, so I have taken the liberty to put together a list of Nelson’s finest dining experiences that is sure to keep you fueled from Cable Bay right through to Farewell Spit. I hope my recommendations help you while visiting this beautiful city! 

1. Cod & Lobster Brasserie

300 Trafalgar St, Nelson, 7010, New Zealand (map, website)

Hours: Mon-Sun 10 a.m.-11 p.m. 

Call: +64 3-546 4300

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Yes, seafood dining is at the top of my list! Nelson is home to the largest fishing port in Australasia (New Zealand and Australia), so it is only fair that Cod & Lobster Brasserie claims the top spot. Fresh off the boat seafood combined with an impressive range of cocktails makes this a must-visit when in Nelson!

2. The Free House Pub

95 Collingwood St, Nelson, 7010, New Zealand (map, website)

Hours: Mon-Thu 3 p.m.-10:30 p.m.; Friday 3 p.m.-12 a.m.; Saturday 12 p.m.-12 a.m.; Sunday 12 p.m.-10:30 p.m. 

Call: +64 3-548 9391

Those who know me would tell you I love good conversation over good beers. Before Virtas, my day job was working at a craft brewery, where I learned the fast growing culture of beer in New Zealand. As Nelson is New Zealand’s hop growing capital, I feel it is completely appropriate to add The Free House Pub to the list! After all, what is better than rehydrating on some amazing locally brewed beers (or wines) in the sun after a full-on day of exploration.

3. Hopgood’s Restaurant

284 Trafalgar St, Nelson, 7010, New Zealand (map, website)

Hours: Mon-Sat 5:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. 

Call: +64 3-545 7191

Facebook/Hopgoods Restaurant

Located a few hundred meters down the road from The Cod & Lobster, Hopgood’s Restaurant has managed to capture the true essence of Nelson hospitality. The welcoming staff make you feel like you are having dinner at an old friend’s house and a constant changing menu provides their kitchen with the freedom required to fully exploit Nelson’s fresh in-season produce.

4. Wafu Bistro

80 Hardy St, Nelson, 7010, New Zealand (map, website)

Hours: Tue-Sat 5:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. 

Call: +64 3-548 1231

Wafu Bistro is one of Nelson’s newest dining experiences and without question a can’t-miss restaurant when you’re here. Yuki, owner of the restaurant, began Wafu Bistro as a passion project after years of mastering the art of sushi in Japan. His experience and skills are put on display as he prepares every dish fresh for your table. For sushi lovers, myself included, Wafu Bistro is an absolute MUST!

5. Harbour Light Bistro

341 Wakefield Quay, Stepneyville, Nelson 7010, New Zealand (map, website)

Hours: Tue-Fri 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; Sat-Sun 11 a.m.-10 p.m. 

Call: +64 3-546 6685

As the name hints, Harbour Light Bistro is located right on the waterfront in Nelson Harbour. A small intimate dining experience, this is the place to take your significant other when you are attempting to woo them (or perhaps apologize for something you did; it swings both ways). Dining in this cozy restaurant while watching all the boats come in and out of the harbor will be sure to impress your date!

Have you ever been to NZ? Share with us in the comments.

Wendy Hung


As the founder of Jetset Times, Wendy is an avid traveler and fluent in five languages. When she's not traveling, Wendy calls Paris and Taipei home. Her favorite countries so far from her travels have been: Bhutan, Iran, and Russia because they were all so different! St. Bart's was pretty amazing too (wink)!

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