The Tapawera Loop ride is the loop trip many cyclists have been waiting for. The area has a colourful past associated with the demise of the railway line, and it is now the centre of the flourishing hop farming industry. When cycling this route on the Great Taste Trail there is one 18 km section on the Motueka River Highway. The off-road trail for this highway section between Tapawera and Woodstock will be moved off the highway in the future. The first image below illustrates this road.
Tapawera is a small farming village dominated by rich farming land and the peaks of the Kahurangi National Park. The little town centre consists of a Four Square Supermarket, a pub, cafe and school. There is also a tiny museum here presenting the local history, including stories associated with the old Nelson railway.
Women on the line
Tapawera was established as a centre when the Midland Railway was built in the early 1900’s. Tiny station buildings were built in valleys along the route and the Kiwi station was later relocated to create the museum in Tapawera. The original Kiwi line was the site of a 1954 protest, where women sat on the line in an effort to prevent government closure. Sonya Davies – trade unionist, peace campaigner and Member of Parliament, was one of the protesters along with organiser Ruth Page. Nine women were arrested during the protest which led to world-wide attention, and the line was torn up in 1955.
Hops, hops and more hops
Tapawera land-use has seen some changes over the years. Raspberries and tobacco have both been grown in this area in the past and at present the hop industry (which Nelson Tasman is known for) is seeing some huge growth in this area. The Tapawera farm soils comprise alluvial silt and sandy loams overlying deep free draining gravels and these soils are well suited to hop growing. Hops are grown on vines which are trained to grow up strings, suspended from overhead trellis structures. There are substantial plantings of new hop gardens alongside the cycle trail near Tapawera village.
Look up, is that a stag on the hill?
In 2014, the regimental Stag emblem of the former 12th and 13th Nelson Marlborough West Coast Regiment was restored on the hillside above the property. It is marked on the road side with the history panel.