Ever wondered where the exact centre of New Zealand is? Well, wonder no longer! A trip to Nelson would not be complete with a wander to find the exact centre of New Zealand (well, that’s Nelson’s claim but more of that later). The Centre of New Zealand walk is a beautiful walk that ends with some stunning views looking down over the city and it’s one of our favourite things to do when we are in town.
FINDING THE CENTRE OF NEW ZEALAND
Every country in the world has an exact centre. Usually, it has no significant bearing but is mainly used by surveyors to take readings and in the early days, to help with the mapping of the Earth’s curvature. New Zealand’s centre point was mapped and chartered by Surveyor John Spence Browning who was based in Nelson and it has now become the focal point of a lovely walk that can be accessed from the city centre.
The Centre of New Zealand is situated on Botanical Hill and you can access the walk from a couple of different starting points. A lot of people set off from Botanical Reserve but you can also start from the Nelson Visitor Information Centre and follow the Maitai Valley Walkway to the Hardy Street Footbridge. On your way, you will find lots of information boards which will tell you about the history of the area as you climb up to the summit of Botanical Hill.
WALKING TO THE CENTRE OF NEW ZEALAND
Depending on your age and fitness levels, the walk to the top of Botanical Hill can take anywhere from about 20-60 minutes. As well as being a great place to take in the stunning views, it’s also a popular place for runners carrying out intensive fitness training so if you fancy stretching your legs when you’re in Nelson, this is a great place to do it. The track is pretty good and can be accessed with pushchairs and buggies. At the top you can take in the amazing views and learn more about the landscape from the helpful information panels.
Top tip: in the summer, we recommend taking your swimming togs and heading down the eastern side of Botanical Hill into Branford Park where you can take a refreshing dip in the ominous sounding Black Hole.
IS BOTANICAL HILL ACTUALLY THE CENTRE OF NEW ZEALAND?
Whilst Nelson likes to claim to be the Centre of New Zealand, later surveys have shown that, when you include Stewart Island into the reckoning, that the actual Centre of New Zealand can be found in the Spooners Range in the Golden Downs Forest which is about a 40 minute drive south from Nelson (and a pretty awesome place to go for a tramp!). Still, we love the history and the story behind Botanical Hill and in our mind, it is still very much the Centre of New Zealand and a great place to go for a walk.
Read more about the Centre of New Zealand walk and history on the Nelson City Council website.