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Experiencing New Zealand at Shelbourne Villa

Gate at Shelbourne Villa in Nelson, New Zealand

The gate at Shelbourne Villa

Are you a baby boomer traveler who enjoys staying at bed and breakfasts? Join the club. Alan and I are big fans, as long as the bed and breakfast is high quality. And we especially appreciate owners or resident managers who take the time to introduce their region and way of life to us. That’s what we found on a visit to Nelson, New Zealand during a South Island road trip with Tailored Travels.

When Alan and I spent a few days at Shelbourne Villa in Nelson, we hit the jackpot. Not only was the bed and breakfast up to our boomer standards; but owners, Val and Wayne Ballantyne, proved to be congenial and informative hosts.

At Shelbourne Villa, you’d never know you were in the heart of a city. Located on a quiet residential street, the bed and breakfast is surrounded by flowering gardens, with outdoor seating areas tucked here and there. Inside, you’ll see local, original artwork throughout the house. The quilts on the wall? They’re probably made by Val, an avid quilter.

Shelbourne Villa dining room

The dining room was decorated for Christmas

Alan and I stayed in the Master Suite, which included a gas-burning fireplace plus a bay window nook with comfortable chairs for reading. The large, en suite bath came equipped with heated towel racks and every convenience. Of course, I appreciated the free wireless internet.

In the afternoons, Val and Wayne host complementary aperitifs and appetizers in the lounge. But they’ don’t supply them and disappear. Instead, they stay for conversation with their guests. Alan and I enjoyed listening to the Ballentyne’s discuss life in New Zealand.

From Shelbourne Villa, it’s a short downhill walk to the shops in Nelson. If you’re visiting on a weekend, don’t miss the Saturday market, where a sea of tents house crafts, art, and organic vegetables. For a more an active baby boomer day, make Nelson your headquarters for a visit to Able Tasman National Park. Drive to Marahau to catch a water taxi ride for Apple Tree Campsite and the two-hour hike through the rainforest back to your car. You should arrive in Nelson just in time for wine and cheese at Shelbourne Villa. For dinner, walk back down the hill to Hopgoods for a meal of grouper with tomato salsa accompanied by a glass of local pinot noir. Does the chef look familiar? It’s Wayne and Val Ballentyne’s son.

Don’t miss breakfast in the mornings, where a long table in the dining room sits in front of a large, window with views of the back garden. But you’re not here for the view. Wayne prepares delicious breakfasts. My favorite? Eggs Mediterranean. Good cooking runs in the family.

Have you traveled to Nelson? Join the conversation at the My Itchy Travel Feet page on Facebook or send us an email to ask a question or share your experience.

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