I joined a friend, Stephanie, afterwards in the
hope of seeking out a good night spot but drove toward Christ Church
Cathedral again. Policemen were helping one group of Nelsonians
ﬁnd their keys and there was next to no trouble in town.
We ventured to one of the few pubs open that Friday night, the Victorian
Rose Pub n Café (281 Trafalgar Street, 64
3 548-7631), which proved excellent for a midnight snack and
drinks. Its known for Tuesday night performances featuring
the Nelson Jazz Club. Outside dining was still possible, though
there was a bit of a breeze ﬂoating through the centre of
the city. I didnt ﬁnd the nightclubs till afterwards:
after discussing the absence of favourable places to dance with
Steph and departing back for Carmel Court, I found plenty of Friday
night life on Bridge Street. However, it was late and we had agreed
to meet at the Saturday morning market in the Montgomery Street
Taking up nearly the whole car park, the market
is a haven for ﬁnding arts and craftswithout the
mark-up commonly seen in Wellington and Aucklandfor which
the region is known. We both regretted not leaving our wedding gift-buying
till the day of the ceremony, for there were porcelain bargains
from the local craftspeople.
|It is the home of the
award-winning Te Mania wines: I
instantly delighted in the 2003 riesling, which had been a silver
medal winner. It was not hard to see why
We sampled Café Affaire (295 Trafalgar
Street, 64 3 548-8295), which I had visited three years before.
It still maintained its chalet-like feel and was ideal for a coffee.
After collecting another bunch of the wedding
posse, we headed again to Trafalgar Street and, insistent that I
sample every happening restaurant in the city,
had a terribly disappointing experience at the famous Chez Eelco.
Ordering groper and friesﬁsh and chipswe waited
an hour. And this was the day of the wedding and a drive to Ruby
Bay still awaited us. The waiter was charming and polite, keeping
his promise to hurry kitchen staff. However, his pleas fell on deaf
ears for our table and our neighbours, including a couple from Canada,
and an American family who made a similar complaint to this. The
waiter claimed that the staff was busycatching the ﬁsh
on the menu? We wondered.
Being the MCs, Lucires
Sally-ann Moffat and I headed off and left our friendswho
had 30 minutes more to spare than we did, and we still had to get
changedto pay. They waited another 15 minutes in the queue
toward the cash register. We were at a loss as to why The
Chez had gained such popularity. The groper, incidentally,
was not worth waiting for and tasted no different from the ﬁsh
and chips one might have had served inﬁnitely more quickly
at a more downmarket establishment.
The drive was much more pleasantthe 2004
Vectras handling proved superior to its predecessors
and I was experimenting with the sequential automatic gearboxthough
I had to re-download my notes from Ruby Bay. The rush from Chez
Eelco forced me to forget them, proving a blessing in disguise:
I would no longer be laboured with sheets of A4 as I rewrote my
main parts on memo-cube notes. The wedding itself went without a
hitch: the couple had had the good taste to hire the Gábor
Trio, Nelsons ﬁnest jazz musicians led by Gábor
Tolnay, who permitted me to join them for one number, The
Shadow of Your Smile. A full moon that evening punctuated
proceedings: we could watch it rise from the Pacific Ocean
directly eastward of the house.
On Sunday, Steph and I decided to play tourist.
It was Ruby Bay for lunchthe bride and groom had had enough
bread from the reception the night before to stock every church
in the country for Holy Communion. On this occasion, we could
enjoy with a freer mind. We followed it with a visit to Höglund
Art Glass (Lansdowne Road, Richmond, 64 3 544-6500)
The world-famous HöglundsOla and Mariehad
emigrated from Sweden. They were at the opening of their Dubai, UAE
store, but gallery manager Rachel McRae confirmed later that they
were related to the late art glass designer Erik Höglund (Ola
being Eriks son).
The Art Glass premises had been fully refurbished,
with a hugely expanded retail area. Forty-five-minute tours are available,
though there is a $15 charge. Sadly, due to unauthorized publications,
the Höglunds have banned photography from the main building:
McCrae relayed that there had been tourists, particularly from Asia,
photographing every item in the store.
We sampled the Amadeus Brasserie and Bar (284
Trafalgar Street, 64 3 545-7191), which proved more consistent food-
and service-wise than Pomeroy and certainly miles ahead of Chez
Eelco. An aromatherapy shop was on the same side of the street and
was comprehensively stocked, as I had remembered.
Being a fashion publisher, I decided to take in
the Wearable Arts Centre the following daybut that was
merely an excuse to sample the car museum. Sadly, there was a photography
ban there, too, and $15 for 40 cars seemed a bit steep in comparison
with some of the worlds greatest car museums, which did permit
With my museum-visiting time cut short and with
an uneventful Scenic Drive (signs are posted in the city,
but it is mercilessly brief) over, I went into Nelsons city
centre to visit the stores that had been closed the Friday before.
One that I did not regret visiting was the plainly and accurately
named Magazine Shop (235 Hardy Street, 64 3 548-3758), which was so
well stocked I could pick up a copy of Smithsonian
magazine. I also located a talking birthday card but in case its
destined recipient is reading this, I cannot divulge its theme. Service
fell on the excellent side of Nelson shops.
Stephanie and I decided on one ﬁnal tourism
destination before departing Nelson: the Grape Place (McShane Road,
Richmond, 64 3 544-4054), where we sampled Richmond
Plains beautiful certified organic wine. It is also the
home of the award-winning Te
Mania wines: I instantly delighted in the 2003 riesling, which
had been a silver medal winner at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards.
It was not hard to see why; coupled with the courtesy from the Grape
Place, Steph bought a bottle.
There were talks about wine at the Grape Place
and a pleasant café and store, but sadly, we had to depart.
Returning the car proved simple, even if cancelling
indicators after a small turn was not. The beauty of the small airport
is that it is very personal. An Avis representative came out to
collect my keys while I was still parked at the drop-off point:
this was one more sign of We try harder.
Steph, Sally-ann and a few others left on a flight that ﬂew
out an hour before mine but the airport was quite pleasant. I typed
a few emails on my laptop recollecting the last four days. Nelson
is not perfect as a tourist destination, for one has to take the
good with the bad. The standards were too variable for those who
have become used to other towns touted for their tourism. That may
be a sign of its purity and genuineness. Maybe. But given a little
more time, Nelson may mature to one of the countrys most desirable
Jack Yan is founding publisher of Lucire.
The Grape Place. ABOVE, FROM TOP:
A wine discussion at the Grape Place. Avis-rented Holden Vectra.
BOTTOM LEFT: Inside the Höglund
Art Glass centre.