These special-crop areas are responsible for the most original landscapes of the region, the principal elements being the tobacco-curing houses, the fields of tobacco themselves, the trellises of the hop vines, the hipped roofs of the hop kilns, and the wire-mesh appearance of the orchards seen from the air. These landscapes, combined with the more usual landscapes of sheep and dairying areas, create a sense of intense cultivation and productivity. Approximately 11,000 acres are devoted to specialised crops, two-thirds of this area lying in the Motueka-Moutere district and a little less than one-third in the vicinity of the lower Wai-iti Valley. A very small acreage of specialised crops, about 150 acres, lies in the middle reaches of the Motueka Valley near Tapawera. Tobacco and pip fruits, apples especially, occupy the greatest area, with vegetables and peas, hops, stone fruits, and small fruits following in that order of importance. In 1960, 4,151 acres were devoted to the production of tobacco, the growers being protected by a regulation which obliges tobacco manufacturers in New Zealand to use a minimum proportion of New Zealand grown leaf; 3,500 acres were under apple and pear trees, the region containing 28 per cent of all New Zealand apple trees and 37 per cent of all pear trees. In the period 1950–60 the number of cases of apples and pears exported has risen from 676,518 to 1,120,257. A remarkable increase has occurred recently in the production of vegetables for marketing and processing. In 1951–52 only 412 acres were under vegetables, but by 1960–61 this figure had risen to 3,097 acres. The principal crops are peas, followed by tomatoes, which are grown also in the numerous glasshouses extending over an area of approximately one and a half million square feet. All of the Dominion's commercial hop gardens are now located in Waimea county and, in 1960, 589 acres were under cultivation for hops. Much of the region's industrial activity is associated with the initial processing and packaging of these products, but the cigarette-manufacturing plants and breweries are located largely outside the region. The seasonal inflow of temporary labour, over 2,000 persons each summer, copes with the heavy demands for labour during the harvest period. These special-crop economies are very favoured by the climate of the region. Nelson records one of the highest number of hours of sunshine per year, 2,430. The average annual rainfall is 35·9 in. spread over 152 days. The mean daily maximum temperature in January is 70·4°F and in July 53·3°F.
The economy of the region is shown by the bill of cargoes for Nelson's port. Two principal items are listed: 44,855 tons of fresh fruit, 24,363 tons of timber. For the port of Motueka, which engages only in coastal traffic, the pattern is the same: 11,787 tons of fresh fruit, 5,310 tons of timber. By comparison the exports of wool, frozen meat, butter, and milk products are negligible. The list of inwards cargo for Nelson is dominated by motor spirits and oils. In 1964 the port of Nelson handled 292,677 tons of goods.