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Car Hire from Nelson Airport

Car Hire from Nelson Airport

New Zealand’s south island is home to incredible scenery, outdoor activities, the wine country and ski resorts. Visitors can bungee jump, lounge by the beach or discover Maori culture, often all in the same day. Hiring a car from Nelson Airport at the north of the South Island gives you the freedom to travel around the island at your own pace and enjoy the wide open, spectacularly scenic roads this part of New Zealand has to offer.

Where to hire a car at Nelson Airport

Avis, Budget, Thrifty, Hertz and NZ Rentacar all have car hire offices at Nelson Airport. They can be found to your right as you enter the main terminal building.

Petrol Stations near Nelson Airport

If you need to return your hire car with a full tank of petrol, you’ll find a number of petrol stations close to the airport. For drivers travelling from the north, there’s a Mobil garage on route 6, in between Moana and Tahunanui about five minutes before you reach the airport. For those travelling from the south, there’s a Waimea Motors garage on route 6, just after the town of Hope around 10 minutes from the airport.

Driving around Nelson Airport

Nelson Airport sits on route 6, a main thoroughfare passing through the south island. From the airport it heads towards Picton in the north east of the island and south west towards Greymouth.

Driving in New Zealand can be a real joy. There is spectacular scenery, miles of open road and very little traffic. New Zealanders drive on the left, like we do in the UK. Roads are always well-maintained but can be hilly and winding so your journeys may take longer than expected.

Getting to your destination

Nelson Airport offers easy car access to a variety of city and countryside locations, including the following.


Nelson is a vibrant and modern city. It’s home to a number of artists’ galleries, contemporary cafés and some impressive historic buildings. Visitors can watch artists at work in their workshops, explore art at the World of Wearable Art, visit the bustling Saturday market or go on a Maori bush walk to learn more about the area’s flora and fauna.

The city of Nelson is just 15 minutes’ drive from Nelson Airport, taking route 6 along the coast before turning inland. The road network is mainly laid out on a grid system making it difficult to lose your way. There is a good selection of parking options around the small city. Be aware that in many public pay and display car parks, the first hour is free. However, you still need to display a ticket from the machine in your windscreen. If you’d rather avoid paying altogether, free, all day parking is available on the city outskirts.

Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park sits on the south island’s coastline. It is a place where you can relax on a white, sandy beach or head into the hills for a hiking adventure. Visitors can see old Maori ruins, go on wildlife spotting tours and sleep under the stars. Water based activities include snorkelling, sea kayaking and sailing.

Abel Tasman National Park is around a 1 hour drive from Nelson Airport. Drivers can park up in the town of Marahau, where there’s a variety of accommodation, and take a water taxi to the heart of the park.


Blenheim provides a great base from which to explore the south island’s Marlborough region, famous around the world for its wine making. Around the town of Blenheim visitors will find a great selection of accommodation, eateries, shops and golf courses. The wineries are, of course, also within easy reach and there are 20 local options to choose from, most of them providing tours and tastings.

It takes 1 hour and 45 minutes to reach Blenheim from Nelson Airport. Drivers should take route 6 north from the airport and follow it around to the east of the island. There are more than 3000 parking spaces around the small town, with a mixture of free and paid options available depending on how centrally you want to leave the car.

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