Experience a Taste Odyssey at the Markets of Nelson, New Zealand

Nelson Market is a great place to purchase tasty treats and meet local merchants
Nelson Market is a great place to purchase tasty treats and meet local merchants | © Urban Napflin / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Bianca Ackroyd
10 February 2020

Markets in the Nelson Tasman region are exciting places to visit to witness how international migration has reached this little corner of the southern hemisphere. The markets represent the multicultural society that Aotearoa is becoming today. Immigrants tour the weekly market circuit, selling roti from Sri Lanka, spring rolls from South East Asia, and gourmet cheeses from Italy. Here are some of the best markets to visit in the Nelson Tasman region of New Zealand.

Saturday breakfast at the Nelson Mark

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Organic food stall at Nelson Market
© Tim Cuff / Alamy Stock Photo
Like many things in Nelson, this market is old – almost 40 years. On Saturdays from 8am to 1pm, the Nelson market in Montgomery Square is where the city residents meet for flat whites and something tasty, in-between running errands. The market hosts more than 80 traders selling handmade jewellery, merino wool shawls and soap – lots of handmade soap. Julia Inwood has been trading at the market for five years, her soap, Purple Kiwi Soap, is made from milk from her own goats. After making soap for the past 40 years, she has more than 20 types to choose from but recommends the shampoo bar for those on holiday, passing through Nelson. Made from goat’s milk, castor oil, almond oil and cocoa butter, “it’s an all in one,” she says.

Wednesday coffee and a pastry at the Nelson Farmer’s Market

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A smaller market with heaps of local organic produce and artisanal food products, the Nelson Farmer’s market is open from 8.30am to 1.30pm every Wednesday. The Farmer’s Market is at Kirby Lane (105 Bridge Street) and sometimes hosts recipe-book authors and raw food demonstrations. Visitors should bring their shopping bags to stock up on vegan meat substitutes and handmade pork sausages. There is also a coffee truck with a good selection of baked goods to choose from.

Sunday brunch at the Motueka Market

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Bonsai tree for sale at Motueka market, Tasman
© Gary Webber / Alamy Stock Photo

The country version of the Nelson Market can be found at the Motueka Sunday Market, a 40-minute drive from Nelson out on State Highway 60 where, on Sundays between 8am and 1pm, tables strain under the weight of fresh summertime produce from the region. An ideal local delicacy to try at the Motueka Market is a cup of Kawakawa juice, a non-alcoholic, healthy beverage made by Reni Garguilo at her Kiwi Kai stall, which also sells indigenous fusion seafood products. Māori people have used the leaf of the Kawakawa for centuries to treat various ailments says Reni. Usually consumed as a hot tea, Reni’s Kawakawa juice is infused with lemon and lime.

Thursday dinner in the park at the Isel Twilight Market

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Isel Market
Courtesy of Isel Market

The Isel Twilight market on Thursday evening from 4.30pm until dark feels like a neighbourhood gathering where everyone knows each other. Many residents head to this intimate market after work, craving a bite to eat from one of the many food trucks on the lawn in front of Isel House in Stoke. This historic building was the home of one of Nelson’s first families, the Marsdens, who arrived in the region in 1842 along with hundreds of other European settlers from England. Pick up some Argentinean steak rolls, Chinese dumplings, Cambodian spring rolls or traditional cream-filled doughnuts to enjoy while sitting under one of the many heritage trees that were planted by James himself more than 100 years ago.

Road trip to the Village Market in Takaka, Golden Bay

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Organic vegetables stall at the Takaka village market, Golden Bay
© Gary Webber / Alamy Stock Photo

Every Saturday during October to May, 9am to 1.30pm, the paid-back Village Market is hosted in the Takaka Library car park. Visitors will need to take an almost two-hour scenic drive from Nelson over Takaka hill to get there. The Village Market features gluten-free food products, locally made arts and crafts, white elephant treasures and entertainment.

These recommendations were updated on February 10, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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