The city of Nelson is located near the center of New Zealand. It is located on the coast of Tasman Bay, on the northern tip of the South Island and is a unitary authority. Nelson is a craft center and every year hosts events such as the Nelson Arts Festival. The Wearable Art Awards wearable art awards started near Nelson and today there is a museum that celebrates them near the airport. Brightwater, near Nelson, is the birthplace of Nobel Prize-winning physicist Ernest Rutherford, whose image appears on the New Zealand $ 100 New Zealand-denominated ticket. Nelson is named in honor of Admiral Horatio Nelson, who defeated the Franco-Spanish fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
Many of the roads and public areas around the city are named after people and ships associated with the battle. Trafalgar Street is the main axis of the city. The inhabitants of Nelson are called Nelsonians. Nelson's Maori name, Whakatū, means 'build','elevate', or 'establish'.