Nelson - New Zealand
If itís sunshine, deep blue seas and golden sand beaches youíre looking for, the sort surrounded by fertile soils, lush native forests and inhabited by generations of green-fingered orchardists, market gardeners, vintners, craftsman and artists, welcome to paradise.
Nestled into the Tasman Bay, on the top of New Zealandís South Island, the city of Nelson offers a lifestyle the envy of many in the entire country.
Isolation has played a major part in its development and despite never having links with the national rail network, it's well served by road and domestic flight services. A naturally occurring 16 km boulder bank shelters one of the busiest fishing and timber exporting ports in the country and this feature was well recognised during the 1840ís colonisation period. Early Maori tribes prized the regions bountiful resources and fought fiercely for them. The English settlers were soon joined by German, Italian and Dutch settlers. With a current city population of 41,000 in a regional one approaching 80,000, its acquisition of city status was by royal charter in 1856 as the seat of an Anglican bishop.
Nelsonís main street is dominated by a flight of steps that lead to the Christ Church Cathedral. Reflecting perhaps the overall financial constraints of the cities ongoing development, the cathedral took 47 years from the laying of the foundation stone to its consecration in 1972, with debates over original designs in the 1950ís to eventual 1960ís design modifications.
Like spending the weekend cruising garage sales you can learn alot about a place from reading its local newspaper The Nelson Mail.
A rapidly expanding coastal village halfway between Nelson and Motueka once famous for artists, nakedness, hippies and New Zealands most toxic waste dump site. Now home to urban sprawl, suburbia and mostly resident to wealthy retirees or foriegners or both some of which actually believe the toxins have been removed. And indeed the levels may be down a bit. A thriving business association exists together with community groups who regularly write in the monthly Coastal News newsletter.
The divide between the old and new settlers is best exemplified by the debate over the village hall. Shall the original building, a community built yet affordable relic be bulldozed for a shiny new complex with the grandeur and appeal of an airport terminal which no one can afford to hire? Kind of reminds me of a cathedral I read about once.
Aaarh progress aye...