Tasman’s Great Taste Trail is a scenic urban and coastal cycle trail that can easily be broken up into bite-sized pieces for short morning rides and afternoon adventures. The trail weaves through and around the coastline, offering stunning views of Tasman Bay and the Western Ranges. You can stop off for a refreshing drink at a boutique winery or craft brewery, enjoy some delicious local fare, admire the work of the regions talented artists and even watch glassblowing in action! The town of Mapua is connected with Rabbit Island by a ferry that transports passengers and their bikes across the bay on scheduled daily sailings. Docking at the Mapua Wharf is the perfect excuse to let down your hair and enjoy some waterfront dining, or explore some of the cool-store shops and galleries. Top tip: for keen riders wanting to continue on the trail, we recommend a rejuvenating overnight stay in Mapua!
2. Have an arty experience
If you’re looking for an authentic arty experience, look no further than Mapua & the Ruby Coast. There’s just something about the place that gets the creative juices flowing in the veins of the locals … perhaps it’s the laid-back seaside lifestyle, perhaps it’s the stunning vistas that surround them, or perhaps there’s just something special in the water. Peruse the art, sculpture and jewellery collections at the cool store galleries, watch the artists at work in their pewter workshop, or simply indulge in some boutique shopping in the Mapua Village. Top tip: you’ll find an extraordinary selection of artisan food, skincare and gifts at Kete, the one stop shop for locally made products, making buying for family and friends back home simple, fun and affordable!
3. Savour local fare and wine
If anyone knows how to celebrate the diverse flavours of our regions soils, crops, fruits, and bays, it’s the Mapua & Ruby Coast community. With a craft brewery, wine bar and a selection of restaurants at the seaside, you can enjoy the full-bodied beverages made from the Moutere clay soils and local hop fields, alongside delectable seafood and fresh seasonal produce all year round.
4. Taste local at the Appleby Farms Icecream Shop
They say there’s nothing better than the taste of local, and the Appleby Farms cow to cone philosophy certainly meets the brief! The milk comes from two family owned Nelson farms and heads 15 minutes down the road to the creamery in Stoke, where it is blended with other beautiful ingredients, such as Nelson boysenberries. After the ice creams popularity over the summer months, serving out of a ‘silver bullet’ Airstream at Tahunanui Beach, you can now enjoy ‘Bad Boys & Berries’, ‘Tangled Passion’ and other delicious flavours at Hamish’s at the Mapua Wharf all year round! Probably a good thing because we guarantee you won’t be able to stop at just one…
5. Feed the eels at the Jester House
The Jester House truly is a hidden gem – driving down Aporo Road in Ruby Bay, you’d never know what fascinating surprises lay just behind the trees and shrubs at the front of the property. Walking across the footbridge at the entrance brings a feeling of excitement, as the whimsical world is unveiled before your eyes. With mosaic surroundings, stunning sculptures, artworks, play equipment, and even a giant chess board, it feels like something out of a fairy-tale! Add to that a wholesome menu using home grown and locally sourced ingredients, a river full of tame eels that you can hand-feed AND luxury B&B accommodation shaped like a giant boot (yes, you did read that correctly), and you’ve got the perfect setting for a couple of days in the Ruby Coast!
Photo: Jester House
6. Enjoy some dinnertime entertainment
For a unique cabaret experience and delicious local fare, The Playhouse Cafe and Theatre is an absolute must do during your time in Nelson Tasman! Located just off the Coastal Highway near the Mapua & Ruby Coast township, The Playhouse boasts a full entertainment calendar from music to theatre, to comedy, magic and burlesque. The grotto style interior and extraordinary grounds, dotted with fascinating sculptures, make it a true oasis of art and culture.
Photo: The Playhouse Cafe & Theatre
7. Relax with fish and chips on the Mapua Wharf
The Nelson Tasman region is bordered by some of the most stunning bays and estuaries known to man, so it’s no wonder that there is a regular debate amongst the locals as to the best place to eat fish and chips! One place that always seems to come out on top is the Mapua Wharf, with the refreshing sea breeze blowing through your hair and the sound of the waves lapping against the shore. The Smokehouse have a delectable variety of smoked seafood on offer, and when paired with perfectly cooked chips and jam donuts, you have everything you could ever need for a true kiwi style dinner! During the colder months (or if you just feel like dining indoors), Rimu Wine Bar and Golden Bear are happy for you to enjoy your takeaway on their premises when buying drinks.
8. Jump off the Mapua Wharf
The Mapua Wharf is a hot spot for swimming, fishing and the ever-popular wharf jumping, particularly in the summer months (although we have seen some brave souls making the jump in the middle of winter). Plunging off the wooden platform into the waters below, then laying back and riding the tide appears to be a favourite pastime for a lot of wharf visitors, whilst others just like to watch from afar with a glass of wine in hand at Jellyfish Café. Top tip: don’t forget to get that perfect Instagram shot at the same time!
Photo by Mark Townshend
9. Explore the Ruby Coast Arts Trail
The creative spirit of the Nelson Tasman region is deeply embedded in the townships of Mapua and the Ruby Coast, and this is celebrated through a surprisingly diverse range of galleries and studios. Potters, painters, print and glass makers… art enthusiasts are spoilt for choice with the arts trail that spans across eight extraordinary locations running the length of the Ruby Coast and beyond.
Photo: Sue Newitt
10. Get muddy at the annual Muddy Buddy Fun Run
Known to bring out the inner child in everyone, the annual Muddy Buddy Fun Run held at Tasman School is a must do if you don’t mind getting a little messy! Every March as part of a school fundraising initiative, families, friends, schools and community groups put on their best costumes to slip, slide and jump around in the mud with their team mates and little ones. With nets sprawled across the estuary, hay bales in the field, and muddy pools to cross, it’s an obstacle race where for many the challenge and excitement isn’t in winning, but in crossing the finish line more muddy than those around you! Wrap up the day with a hose down from the local fire brigade, before heading home for a warm soapy shower.