259 Kms from Nelson
Once the train docks into Chirstchurch, Uber to your acco. Ensure you stay in Central Christchurch, which is the heart of the quake-ravaged city and walking distance from everything. Check out the unique Re:Start mall that's made entirely of shipping containers; the Cardboard Cathedral, which is exactly what it's sounds like; and 185 White Chairs, a memorial to the victims of the 2011 quake. You could also walk to the lovely Botanic gardens and spend a leisurely 2-3 hours admiring nature permed to its finest. Hitch an Uber back. Spend some time walking around CBD because you'll find some lovely street art around every corner.
133 Kms from Nelson
The lovely coastal city of Kaikoura, famous for whale watching, is a 2-hour Intercity bus ride away. The bus station is in central Christchurch - easily walkable if you're located centrally. The bus drops you about a kilometer away from WhaleWay Station in Kaikoura where you need to report for the activity (our tour was cancelled since the whales played spoilsport and went off deep into the ocean). You could also take a scenic Kiwirail from Christchurch to Kaikoura. 6. Rotorua
263 Kms from Nelson
We took an Intercity Bus to Greymouth to catch one of the best train rides in the world. The bus will pick you up from your accomodation and takes a little over 3 hours to get to Greymouth, well in time for the train. You get a short break in the gorgeous seaside village of Hokitika for breakfast. Make the most of it, because you'll spend most your 4 hour train ride with your jaw dropping to the floor. The TranzAlpine to Christchurch is an absolutely stunning train ride that's worth every penny. You'll cross rivers, mountains, fields and more. There's even a 'viewing carriage' purely for photography. I spent 80% of my time there, coming in only for some hot chocolate and wine. 5. Christchurch