The Gentle Cycling Company

Jellyfish Restaurant & Bar


Located in the coastal village of Mapua, right on the Great Taste Trail, Hodgson meets the owners of Jellyfish, who have built on the theme of a seaside place to dine while enjoying the birdlife and changing tides.

Sitting on the new deck at Jellyfish Restaurant with views across the wharf and down the estuary to the open sea, is arguably the best waterside aspect in the region.

Tasman District Council recently repaired the heritage wharf-side building that is home to Jellyfish, the old rotten timber wharf was re-strengthened and the building was fully rewired and re-plumbed; the result is a restaurant that, on first glance, doesn’t look a lot different in shape and size but the remodeled deck and interior work carried out by owners Debbie and Simon Lavery has transformed the space into a very inviting dining venue. The Lavery’s purchased Jellyfish in May 2016 and at the time were told some maintenance was needed, but when TDC did a proper inspection they realised there were more significant issues that needed to be addressed, as you would expect in an old waterfront building that had once been home to a crab storage and sorting facility sitting in the tidal zone.

“The wharf dates back to about 1910 and the building sometime between then and 1930, so piles needed repairing, windows were leaking and other things that happen in old buildings needed to be dealt with, so the decision was made to close during winter and do the maintenance that would ensure we can be here for many more years.”

Debbie says it has all been worth it even if it wasn’t what they expected in their first 12 months of owning the business, “not only did we have to close but we also had the significant cost of doing a full internal refit not long after buying the business, as well as the challenge of retaining our staff over that period. I guess it was never going to be easy”.

That refit included replacing the entire kitchen, new refrigeration, new laundry, new toilets and new carpet/lino through the entire space, “we didn’t want it to change too much so while the inside looks similar it has had a full refurbishment, we are really conscious that we are part of a local community and we need to respect the fact we are in a heritage building by the sea, we didn’t want to lose that real connection with the sea by turning it into a glass and aluminium edifice. Jellyfish is a place for locals, probably more than a tourist destination, so keeping it warm and comfortable was really important.”

White painted ceilings and beams have given the interior an open feel, the carpet is made from recycled fishing nets recovered from sea trash by small fishing villages in the Philippines while cleaning up their beaches and waters of discarded fishing nets, it is another link to the sea, and the idea is to enhance the connection between the sea and the interior.”

And the best thing about the upgrade – “happy staff, happy locals whom come back and give me really positive feedback, the new deck is fantastic, we are really excited about having such a beautiful place to work and share with our community and customers this coming summer.”

Thanks to Neil Hodgson for permission to use this article, first published 20/9/17