Cockles and mussels alive, alive oh

Havelock is a small town with a population of around 500 located at the head of the Pelorus Sounds, where the Pelorus and Kaium Rivers join. It's a great coffee stop on the drive between Blenheim and Nelson.


Colourful down-town Havelock

Once a thriving town at the centre of the timber milling industry, today, it is better known for its small boat harbour and its harvest of green-shelled mussels, and also for being the gateway to the beautiful Pelorus Sounds. The town itself is small and it's a place to go to get away from the hustle and bustle of the major centres. However, it is well-equipped for its size. It has a supermarket which is open seven days, a bakery, a chemist, a post office, several cafes and a range of arts and crafts shops, as well as a local pub, of course. A Mussel Boys restaurant which specializes in mussel dishes. It’s on the main road and with giant mussels playing rugby on the roof, you won't miss it.

The busy marina is definitely worth a visit. If you have access to a boat, it has a launching ramp as well as spaces in which to berth your vessel. Another attraction you'll find in the town is a small museum, located on the main road. It gives information about the history of the area. Also on the main road is Rutherford YHA - a camping ground and hostel, with reasonable rates. Its point of interest, however, is that it is a former schoolhouse which was attended by Ernest Rutherford, who went on to split the atom.

As well as the Rutherford YHA hostel, there's a camping ground with tent and caravan sites, and also cabins in Havelock. If you'd prefer something a little more luxurious, there are range of bed and breakfasts and private cottages available for short-term hire. Inquire at the Havelock Outdoors Centre on the main street for all accommodation options.

Several companies offer sea kayaking tours departing from Havelock and exploring the beautiful Pelorus Sounds area.  Many other sea-based activities are on offer, including chartered tours. The Mussel Farm Cruise takes you on a half-day cruise to the mussel farms. Here, you get a guided tour, concluding with a sample of the mussels which the farm produces.

If you'd prefer land-based activities, there are plenty of beautiful day walks departing from Havelock. For a brief walk, head to Cullen Point, which takes about half an hour. From here the are excellent views of Havelock and of the sunset if you time it right. For a little more of a challenge, try walking up the Takorika Summit where you'll find breath-taking views of the Sounds. This take you to a height of 721m and should take around 4 hours return. If you have access to a mountain bike, this track makes for an excellent ride and challenging uphill and exciting downhill.

Canvastown, 8km west of Havelock, was the centre of a gold rush in the 1860s.  It was named for the city of tents which emerged when word about the gold in the nearby river got out. At the height of the rush, the goldfield was one of the richest in the country.  The rush is of course well and truly over now. However, gold is still sometimes found in the river, and nuggets of up to 5g have reportedly been found.  If you want to try your hand at gold-panning, equipment can be hired from the nearby Pinedale Motor Camp, which also, as the name suggests, has camp sites and cabins at reasonable rates.

Rai Valley is a blink-and-you-miss-it town on the road from Havelock to Nelson. Although it is small, if you do happen to pass through it its worth stopping to try one of the mussel pies offered by the tea-rooms. These are a local delicacy, and have become somewhat legendary in the area.


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