Nelson, New Zealand
Located on the northwest end of the South Island, Nelson enjoys the sunniest weather in New Zealand, giving it the dual nicknames “Sunny Nelson” and “Top of the South.” The city is the oldest on South Island, and the second-oldest in New Zealand, having been founded in 1841 as a speculative endeavor by a development company, which purchased land from the Maori inhabitants. The scheme did not thrive, because the arable land was too limited by mountain ranges on three sides and the Tasman Bay on the fourth. Today, however, Nelson is the biggest fishing port in the Australasian region. The town is also a renowned center for creative types including artists and artisans. It holds an annual Festival of Wearable Art and a permanent museum is dedicated to the entries and to collectible cars. The abundant sunlight helps ripen the sauvignon blanc grapes that have made the nearby Marlborough region a global wine mecca. To the west, the Abel Tasman National Park offers outdoor action, while to the east a bit, Havelock is the self-proclaimed “Greenlip Mussel Capital of the World!” The surrounding mountains are honeycombed with caverns, including some of the world’s most extensive explored caverns.