Barnaby Way in The Wood was named after a Charles Dickens character.

What’s in a (street) name?


There is a story behind every street name in Nelson, although some of those are more unusual than others with one Nelson street named after a character in a Charles Dickens novel.

Barnaby Way, off Milton St, is just one of several unusual street names in the region, with Nelson City Council records showing the applicant stated that they were a fan of Dickens’ work.

Many of the street names in Nelson can trace their origin to English place names, references to Lord Nelson or founding fathers of the city. But some places have also been named in theme, like Nashi Pl in Stoke’s “fruit themed area”. There is also an area in Britannia Heights with a Canadian theme with names like “Montreal Rd” and “Montcalm St”.

Other themed areas include English names, Maori words and streets named after native birds.

NCC says all subdivision developers need to recommend names for new streets – including alternatives if the originals are unsuitable. They are then checked against certain criteria and put before a hearing panel of councillors for confirmation.

Amongst the criteria is that it’s not similar to an existing street name in Nelson or Tasman, that it’s not named after a living person, the name should bear a relationship to the area, if the site is significant to iwi then an appropriate name in Te Reo is put forward, that new subdivisions should have an overall theme, that names are not commercially based and a name should be as simple as possible and easy to spell.

Out in Tasman, Brightwater’s Sixpenny Lane and Threepenny Place are named after the night and day rates the ferry across the Wairoa River charged before the bridge was in place.

Among some of the other stand out street names in Nelson are Quiet Woman Way, Tic Toc Rd, Pepper Tree Way, Snodgrass Ave, Synagogue Lane and Sugar Loaf Place.

The most popular street name in New Zealand is Beach Rd, which both Nelson and Richmond have.


  1. The names in Nelson are so easy. Just be glad that you do not have to use street names such as we have here in Brazil. Rua Jorge Ferriria Duque Estrada, Rua Dr. Naby Zacarias, Avenida Saturnino de Brito, Avenida Nossa Senhora da Penha or Avenida Dr.Herwan Modenese Wanderley. I have had to use all of those street names as return addresses.
    You can understand why the envelopes are long here.