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Art & Heritage

Founders Park – Heritage Open-air Museum in Nelson

Wander through an open-air museum and heritage precinct with the temptation of freshly baked goodies and several fascinating single collection exhibits such as hops and beer museum. Wonder about your sense of balance on a penny farthing, a large wheeled bicycle. Hop inside a Bristol Freighter plane and check out the cockpit of one of New Zealand’s aerial workhorses.

The Founders Park is a family-friendly destination even if the weather is damp and cool with plenty of indoor spaces, cafes and shops to linger in. Enjoy wandering around an old bus station decked out with timetables and vintage buses or a fire station with its heritage fire truck.

Clamber aboard a 1950’s freighter plane and hop on a vintage train for a short ride.

Old St Peter’s-by-the-Strand Church served the Anglicans of the Atawhai area of Nelson from 1874-1983, when it was moved to Founders Park, Nelson, New Zealand
Old St Peter’s-by-the-Strand Church


Founders Heritage Park church and windmill in Nelson New Zealand
Old St Peter’s-by-the-Strand Church


Bakers, confectionary stores, grocery vendors and artisan workshops invite visitors to peer over the counters, to ask questions as they enjoy the ambiance of a colonial Victorian era main street. There is a gift shop, marketing arts and crafts produced on site in the various workshops open for viewing, check out The Windmill Founders Store for unique souvenirs. 



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Old St Peter’s Church is a popular background for a selfie. The church can be booked for exclusive events and weddings.


Craft brewery & cider drink Nelson weekend trip – Best Bits reflects Nelson’s rich brewing heritage dating back to 1843. Nelson is New Zealand’s craft beer capital. The first hundred years of hop growing and brewing  is celebrated in the Hop & Beer Museum, Founders Park.  Explore the replica hop kiln, learn about the brewing process and listen to the arguments for and against prohibition in the Brewer’s Office. The museum is located in the Founders Heritage Park, Nelson.


Founders Park is home to several fairs:

– Bookfair, second hand book market

– Summer evening food markets


Check Founders Park facebook page for up to date information.

NELSON RAILWAY SOCIETY enthusiasts operate a short heritage railway line in the FOUNDERS HERITAGE PARK

The Nelson Railway Society operates a short heritage railway line in the Founders Heritage Park. The Nelson Railway Society currently operates a diesel locomotive, railcar, restored carriages & rolling stock. Restored Stations from Spring Grove, Tui and Wakefield Quay add to the charm of railway travel on the short loop track.




A replica of the 1867 Fire Station houses ‘Dennis’, a 1957 fire engine. During school holidays there are programmes inviting kids to dress in vintage fire fighting uniforms. Find out what it’s like to extinguish fires without modern equipment.

Nelson Volunteer Fire Brigade Engine House built in 1867 at the Founders Park, Nelson, New Zealand
Nelson Volunteer Fire Brigade Engine House

For heritage buffs make sure to visit the original Nelson Provincial Government Fire Engine House (1866) on Hardy St, Nelson city.  The fire engine house (1866) was built to mirror the design of the nearby grand provincial buildings. It’s the only remaining reminder of these buildings, which were later demolished. For a short time it was used to house a fire engine specifically purchased to protect the provincial building from fire. While the building is empty and not open to visitors it is a reminder of Nelson’s years of self-government.

The replica of this Fire Engine House at Founders Heritage Park and was built in 1983 with the generous assistance from the Nelson Host Lions Club.

Nelson offers visitors a wealth of attractions. For foodie lovers the well known Nelson weekend market is a drawcard. Find out more about it in the Nelson City Guide. Hungry? Check out Where To Eat in Nelson – Best Bits as you delve into the sights and sounds of Nelson.

Founders Park entry is NOT FREE. Admission fees apply. The Founders Park is owned and managed by the Nelson local government.



Founders Park is a 30-minute walk from the city centre. The park has a large car park at Founders Park with a public bus route stopping at the Founders Park. For public bus routes, check Atawhai – Hospital – eBus. The stop is Stop Atawhai Drive at Founders Park, 87 Atawhai Drive.

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