Hops, wine and tobacco

Like many NZ beaches, you often have them to yourself

Like many NZ beaches, you often have them to yourself

Motueka is so popular over the summer months that the population swells from its usual 12,000 to about 20,000. Students are lured to the area by the seasonal work, which is readily available during the University holidays, while tourists come for the sparkling weather and the proximity to Abel Tasman National Park

The weekly Sunday Market in the centre of Motueka hosts an array of arts, crafts and bric-a-brac stalls, as well as offering market-style food. You’ll also find an abundance of independent arts & crafts galleries and small vineyards in the township and the surrounding areas. Arts and crafts on offer range from traditional paintings to papier-mache sculptures to ceramics. The vineyards produce a variety of red, white and fruit wines, and most offer wine tasting. The local Information Centre will be able to provide you with a guide to where to find these.

Hopping in a car and visiting these as you come to them would make a pleasant day-trip, particularly with a lunch-break at Jester House Café (10 minutes drive from Motueka). Jester House offers fresh baking and casual dining in the garden, or by the open fire in the quaint cottage. The garden has a myriad of playful features, including a maze and a giant chess set. In the summer, you can even feed the tame eels which live in the stream which runs through the garden.

Motueka has its own Aviation college, where you can learn to fly small planes or simply take in a scenic flight over the diverse countryside and coastline. Alongside the college, Nelson Sky Diving is offers tandem or static line skydives to the adrenaline junkies. They have specially trained cameramen on staff to capture your skydive on tape.

Despite the once legendary Gathering being now defunct, (an annual weekend of music and mayhem) the rave scene is alive and well in the Motueka area. There are various New Year’s raves making an effort to replace the Gathering, most notably Visionz. It is located near the base of Farewell Spit, and so is a bit more of a trek to get to than the Gathering was, but it is well worth it. It is a four day rave with live performance as well as dance music. Cafes and food stalls are on site and, as it is run by a charitable trust promoting sustainability, workshops are offered on various environmental issues, such as alternative energy, as well as craft workshops such as harakeke (flax) weaving. There are also many other raves and dance parties throughout the year, largely run by a group called “Stardust”, whose regular dance parties on Takaka Hill are becoming renowned.

Though camping is discouraged along the Motueka River banks, a shantytown of tents and campervans belonging to tourists, students and seasonal workers pops up there over summer. If you prefer a little comfort and some facilities, a range of accommodation is on offer. Motueka Holiday Park has tent, caravan and campervan sites with shared toilet, laundry and kitchen facilities. They also offer motel and backpacker accommodation. At the other end of the scale, various places offer boutique-style bed and breakfast accommodation, often in the form of private cottages – perfect for a romantic getaway! For the more adventurous, the Tipi Stay backpackers are located a short drive along the Moutere Highway. This is just as is sounds – accommodation is in the form of traditional Indian tipis. Kitchen and laundry facilities are provided in a charming thatch-roofed hut, and there are open-air showers and baths with mountain views.

Kaiteriteri is a short but windy drive down the road. This small town is launch point for many activities in the Abel Tasman National Park – a beautiful park with native bush alongside stunning beaches. Tracks wend through the park and there is a walk to suit everyone, from easy day-walks to four-day tramps. Kaiterteri is beautiful in its own right, however. It is a picturesque seaside area, with golden sands and clear blue water. The swimming areas are safe enough for even the smallest children, and for the more adventurous grown-ups, a wide range of water activities are based in Kaiteriteri. Sight-seeing and guided tours of Abel Tasman National Park are provided from kayaks and yachts. You can also hire your own yacht to see the sights at your own pace. Water taxis also give tours, or can drop you in the middle of the Park so you can walk whichever part of the track you want. If you want to stick around the Kaiteriteri area, wind-surfing and snorkelling are also offered.

Kaiteriteri has a well-appointed camping ground, which is very popular over summer. It has its own mini-supermarket for whatever provisions you need, as well as a mini-golf course and a licensed restaurant which operates over the summer months. For those who are seeking a little luxury, Time and Tide is a delightful holiday home that can be rented. Kimi Ora Spa Resort offers Swiss Chalet style apartments, each with a view of the ocean. There are heated indoor and outdoor pools on site, as well as spas and saunas, and a licensed vegetarian restaurant. In addition, Kimi Ora offers a variety of health and beauty treatments.


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