Sophia Walters, 12, is just one Nelsonian reaching for the tissue box this spring. Photo: Kate Russell.

Hay fever hits Nelson


It all started last year for 12-year-old Sophia Walters.

The Nelson Intermediate student was playing with her friends when one of them asked why she was crying.

“They thought I was upset, but I just had hay fever,” she says.

Having watery eyes is just one of the symptoms that Sophia suffers from in the spring-time. Sneezing, a blocked nose, breathing problems and even earaches also plague her.

“The first time she had it we thought it was an ear infection, so we went to the ear, nose and throat specialist at the hospital. He said it was just hay fever,” says Sophia’s mother, Jacquie.

Jacquie says her daughter’s hay fever has only begun since they moved here from Christchurch a few years ago. She finds an over-the-counter nasal spray the best relief.

“It’s really annoying. My nose tickles and it gets blocked and I can’t breathe through it,” says Sophia.

Sophia isn’t the only Nelsonian suffering from hay fever this spring.

Nelson GP spokesperson Dr Graham Loveridge says it’s the season that many locals dread.
With its proximity to pasture and forestry, Nelson is known to be a hay fever hot spot.

“It’s not so much the clouds of yellow pollen we see, but more the grass and wattle seeds. Most Nelsonians anticipate it and prepare themselves, though,” he says.

And with avoidance and treatment being the only option for relief, pharmacies around Nelson are noticing an increase in demand for nasal sprays, eye washes, decongestants and antihistamines.

Collingwood Street Pharmacy owner Gary Chalmers says they always see an “obvious surge” this time of year – from September right up until Christmas.

“Hay fever can be particularly trying,” he says. “People can be beside themselves – tired and grumpy. Some unfortunate people need triple therapy, while some people don’t make the link and think they just have a drawn-out cold.”

“Our climate is such that we have a great explosion of growth this time of year. It’s just the consequence of living where we are.”

How to survive hay fever season:

– Check out Allergy NZ’s pollen calendar to understand what you might be allergic to and visit your GP for diagnosis and treatment.

– Once you know the major allergen that is triggering your symptoms, the best treatment is to avoid it. Head to for more info and check out the MetService pollen forecast for daily updates.