At the moment, if you’re looking to fly in to locations like Nelson, Rotorua or even Hamilton, you’ll have just one airline willing to fly you there - which means of course that prices are on the high side and flexibility is low. That’s all about to change however, with Jetstar announcing yesterday that from December 2015 it will fly to at least four regional locations. Just what those locations will be is yet to be set in stone, but some of the destinations under consideration include Napier, Invercargill, Nelson and New Plymouth.
Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism John Key said, “Today’s commitment is more good news for New Zealand and for the regions. This will create jobs, mean cheaper fares and more choice for New Zealanders and our international visitors, and will provide a welcome boost to regional economies.”
Last year, a record 2.95 million tourists visited New Zealand, and the Government has stated that it’s committed to ensuring the benefits are spread around the country.
Jetstar’s December regional rollout is right in the middle of New Zealand’s peak holiday season, so if you want to take advantage of Jetstar’s new flights you’ll want to start arranging your travel plans now. And while Nelson is yet to be 100% confirmed as one of the new destinations, most people who’ve visited the region would lay good odds on New Zealand’s sunniest city being added to Jetstar’s domestic schedule. To kickstart your Kiwi summer vacation, why not plan a motorhome trip around the sun soaked vineyards of the Nelson region? It’s as easy as taking a short flight down to Nelson, picking up your pre-booked motorhome at the airport, and hitting the road.
Nelson in summertime is truly glorious to behold. Just isolated enough to preserve a rural feel while offering all the amenities of a modern city, it’s ideally suited to those who are looking to unwind and indulge.
The region is a haven for foodies and wine connoisseurs - visitors to the region are spoiled for choice when it comes to gastronomic delights! Don’t miss the Nelson Market that appears on Saturday mornings at Montgomery Square: fresh, quality local produce is always a feature. Feast your eyes on breads, cheeses, honey, seafoods, pastries and more - then feast your stomach on whatever takes your fancy. If you’re in town in February, go out of your way to catch the Brightwater Wine and Food Festival on Sunday the 21st. Held at the beautiful Middle Earth Vineyards, this is the best opportunity you’ll get to sample the very finest local cuisine and beverages.
Of course, no visit to Nelson would be complete without a wine tour. There are many wineries in close proximity but rather than driving to them all yourself, it’s best to book a tour. That way you get picked up from wherever you’re staying, guided to the best spots and dropped off again several hours later - no need to organise a sober driver!
As you have the freedom of a campervan, it’d be a great waste to miss out on the delights of the surrounding area - and if there’s one place nearby that has a reputation to eclipse all others, it’s Golden Bay. Located less than two hours drive from the city, this is where Nelson locals head for their holidays. Pristine landscapes and fine golden sand beaches characterise the region and untouched native bush still dominates the hills above the coast. If you’re after something a little more active than just lazing on beautiful beaches (as glorious as that is) this is also the place to start one of the most famous walks in the world: the Abel Tasman Track. The entire route is 51 kilometres of hidden coves and native trees, but if that’s a little too much to bite off in one go, many visitors just enjoy a small section of the track. Whether you’re after a day trip or a leisurely hour’s stroll, this is Godzone scenery at its best. What’s most incredible is that Golden Bay’s sumptuous vistas are only a couple hours from the wineries and food fests of Nelson. Talk about an easy way to get back to nature!
To be honest, whether or not Jetstar ends up flying to Nelson (although they probably will) this is one of the absolute top contenders for a motorhome holiday destination in New Zealand, or indeed the world, not to mention other stunning spots including Queenstown and Christchurch.