Nelson: Home to U.S.-Italy game, and a mighty fine place

By Shauna Mendez, Embassy Wellington

Te Tau Ihu o Te Waka a Mauiis the Māori name for the top of the South Island. Legend tells us that Te Tau Ihu was the prow of Maui’s waka, or canoe, from which he fished up the North Island. 

The city of Nelson is close to the centre of New Zealand. It lies at the shore of Tasman Bay, at the northern end of the South Island, and is the administrative center of the Nelson region.  

 The Nelson-Tasman region may well be one of the most diverse tourist destinations in New Zealand.  Nelson is the gateway to three National Parks, including Abel Tasman – the country’s only coastal National Park, surrounded by mountains and known for year-round sun and golden beaches, the region boasts a vibrant arts and culture community and some of the best wineries in NZ. 


But most importantly – Nelson is the birthplace of rugby in New Zealand – that’s right, over 140 years ago in May 1870, the first game using recognized rugby rules was played in Nelson between the Nelson Rugby Football Club and Nelson College.  The historic event is attributed to the efforts of Charles Monro, the father of NZ rugby, who was from Nelson.


So it’s only fitting that Trafalgar Park will be hosting a number of games during the Rugby World Cup in 2011, including USA vs. Italy on 27 September.

Originally known as The Mudflat Recreation Ground, Trafalgar Park was built in the 1880’s on eight acres of reclaimed land by the Nelson Athletic Ground Company. The park has undergone some upgrades in the past year and will be able to house 18,000 spectators for its RWC games this yearLocated just a five minute walk from the Nelson CBD, Trafalgar Park is the most accessible RWC venues in the country.

There are already lots of great activities and events being planned in Nelson and surrounding towns around the RWC.  The one that we think sounds the most exciting is The Richmond Festival, which will be a red, white, and blue extravaganza of food, drinks, contests, and activities with a USA theme.  

Richmond is the largest urban settlement in the Tasman District, only 15km south of Nelson. Its fast growing population is attracted by the surrounding natural beauty and vibrant feel of the town.

The town of Richmond has elected to ‘adopt’ the USA Eagles as their team to root for and this festival promises to bring the perfect mix of Americana and Kiwiana in the run-up to the game on the 27 of September.  Check out the website for all the details and to see how you can get involved.  The Richmond Festival will be featured on NZ’s Breakfast morning show on 11 July 2011.

For other American-themed fun in the Nelson/Richmond area check out the Nelson USA club and the Golden Bear Brewery.

For more info on all the festivities happening in the region around the Rugby Worlds Cup, have look at some of these useful websites.  You can also sign up on facebook to join the USA RWC 2011 Supporters Group  and get some USA Eagles gear from USA rugby direct.

 Nelson City Council RWC website:


Sports & Heritage events: