Take a day driving through the countryside. Our recommended day trips are:
First, drive from Nelson to Mapua, a charming coastal village with an old wharf, cafes, a brewery and galleries. Mapua is great for morning tea or lunch on the wharf. Next, drive to Motueka via the Coastal Highway rather than the State Highway. The Coastal Highway passes through Ruby Bay and Tasman village. Be sure to stop at the Jester House Café in Tasman, to feed the tame eels and wander in garden. And just down the road is the fabulous Steve Fullmer Ceramics Gallery. In Motueka, stop for lunch at Toad Hall, with Townshend Brewery right next door. The Motueka Museum is a great place to go to find out more about the hop industry. If time allows, go on to Kaiteriteri for a swim at this stunning golden beach. Leaving Motueka, take the Motueka Highway back to Nelson. Stop off at the Moutere Inn at Upper Moutere, which is the oldest pub in NZ and serves a great range of craft beer. While in Upper Moutere, visit the Old Post Office Store, home of Moutere Gold preserves, local cheeses and a contemporary design gallery. There is also an interesting historic church at Upper Moutere and look out for hop gardens along the road.
For more information on artist studios in the Mapua Ruby Bay area visit this website.
St Arnaud Village and Lake Rotoiti
St Arnaud is an alpine village, where snow falls to the lake edge at times during the winter. Drive to St Arnaud village for lunch at the Clinker Café. Great food, including bread and continental cakes made on the premises. At the lake, check out the massive eels living under the jetty, swim in the crystal clear alpine lake (yes it’s cold, but we recommend trying it during the months of February and March when it is less icy.) Choose one of the lake-side walking tracks to experience the birdsong of the tui’s and bellbirds. Jan Thomson's Korimako Studio is also located in St Arnaud.
Mr Arthur is the highest mountain in the Kahurangi National Park and walking to the Mt Arthur hut is a wonderful and relatively easy day walk. It takes an hour to drive from Nelson city to the Flora car park (930m) which is the starting point of the walk. The mountain road can be icy in winter, so we recommend you check with the Department of Conservation at Nelson iSite before undertaking a winter trip. The last section of this gravel road to the car park is narrow and steep, so it is not recommended for those who are not confident when driving in more challenging conditions. For summer trips, drive to the Mt Arthur car park then walk approximately one hour to the Mt Arthur Hut for amazing views down to the sea and across the Nelson plains. This walk is not as well-known as the Abel Tasman walks, but the views and vegetation make it an absolutely wonderful trip for those who are a little more adventurous.