Enjoy Nelson's Thriving Café Culture at These Top 9 Coffee Shops

Trafalgar Street in Nelson offers a number of places to stop and grab a coffee
Trafalgar Street in Nelson offers a number of places to stop and grab a coffee | © David Wall / Alamy Stock Photo
Nelson, a city that’s home to about 50,000 people at the top of the South Island in New Zealand, is known for its history, art and craft culture, and stunning natural scenery. For residents and visitors alike, cafés are a part of everyday life as places to stop between visiting the museum, local art galleries, shopping or walking in one of the parks. Here is a selection of cafés to try that offer something in addition to a regular flat white.
Coffee culture in Nelson is popular and there’s plenty of places to enjoy it © RUBEN RAMOS / Alamy Stock Photo

Choose your roast at Zumo Coffee House

Coffee Shop, Cafe, Coffee, Snacks, Continental, $$$
Nelson’s Zumo Coffee House on Rutherford Street is located close to the bus terminus and is a great option for a quick coffee stop. Visitors here can choose their roast from options including mellow and light Colombian and decaf among others.
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Enjoy art and design at the Red Art Gallery, Design Store and Cafe

Cafe, Coffee, Snacks

The Red Art Gallery, Design Store and Café on Bridge Street is a great option if you want to pick up a few unique handmade gifts to take home and enjoy a coffee at the same time. Shop for earrings made from recycled tyres and handmade ceramic teacups while waiting for a cup of coffee.

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Take in coffee with a view at the Suter Cafe

Cafe, European, Coffee, Snacks, Continental, Oceanian, $$$
Suter Cafe
© Bianca Ackroyd

The Suter Café on Bridge Street is situated in a glass atrium, surrounded by trees and views of the Queen’s gardens. This café serves Havana coffee and gourmet baked goods and light meals. Try the nectarine and berry frangipane after a walk through the latest exhibition at the Suter Art Gallery.

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Savour a taste of northern Europe at the Swedish Bakery and Cafe

Bakery, Swedish, $$$

Traditional Nordic baking with local ingredients from the Nelson Tasman region is what makes the Swedish Bakery and Café on Bridge Street stand out. Choose from freshly made éclairs, tarts and cakes while also picking up a loaf of freshly baked rye or sourdough bread to take home.

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Sip coffee at the museum at Sweet As Cafe

Bakery, Cafe, Swedish

Kiwi coffee culture is celebrated at the aptly named Sweet As Cafe situated next to the Nelson Provincial Museum on Trafalgar Street. Visitors to New Zealand will learn that the common Kiwi expression, ‘sweet as’, is an affirmation of sorts that means ‘no problem’, or ‘well done’. For this café that serves breakfast, lunch and a range of baked goods and milkshakes, the term ‘sweet as’ very definitely does apply.

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Admire retro Italian scooter style at Lambretta’s Cafe Bar

Pizzeria, Family style, Cafe, Italian, $$$

Open seven days a week from breakfast until 4pm, at Lambretta’s visitors can order just about anything, from breakfast to pizza, salad, burgers and gelato. This café-bar celebrates everything stylish and elegant about small Italian bikes. Look out for the vintage Italian scooters hanging on the walls.

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Buy fairtrade and organic at Kush Coffee

Coffee Shop, Coffee, $$$
A costumer is reading a newpaper inside the Kush coffee shop
© RUBEN RAMOS / Alamy Stock Photo

Kush Coffee serves (where possible) fairtrade, organic and shade-grown Arabica coffee beans roasted by the shop in Nelson Port. The coffee shop on Church Street has a relaxed, quirky feel with walls painted turquoise, vintage portraits of women and Buddha statues adorning the walls. Striving for sustainability, Kush Coffee serves takeaway coffee in compostable cups and lids.

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Relax at River Kitchen Maitai Nelson

Cafe, Snacks, $$$

Laze back on a bean bag while drinking a cup of coffee on the grass next to the Maitai River at the River Kitchen. Located on Trafalgar Street, next to the Nelson i-SITE visitor information centre, this café is a great place to sit and plan future travels while watching local birdlife enjoying the river.

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Grab a coffee in a historic garden at the Garden Window Cafe

Coffee Shop, Cafe, Coffee

Enjoy a cup of coffee in the historic gardens of Isel House in Stoke, the original home of early settlers James and Mary Marsden. The kiosk at the historic house is only open from October to May, but during the winter months you can visit the café at the nearby Greenmeadows Centre sports complex.

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These recommendations were updated on February 13, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.