Church Hill is rich in the history of Nelson. The Maori name for the hill is Pikimai (climb up here) and had been the site of a pa. Newly-arrived immigrants were housed there, as was the Post Office, the New Zealand Company's storerooms and barracks, the Examiner offices, the courthouse, and the hospital tent. The grounds include part of the original ramparts of Fort Arthur, built by the early settlers after the Wairau Affray in 1843. The present cathedral is the third church building on the site and was completed in 1965. Open for public viewing.
There has been a church on the site since 1851. The present cathedral is the third building, replacing an earlier wooden cathedral, demolished as an earthquake risk in 1925.
Notable trees on the hill include the Hoop pine, Himalayan Cedar, Californian Redwood, a group of Turkey Oak and a Pin Oak.