A day out exploring the region on sections of this scenic urban and coastal cycle trail is a must, or multiple days if you choose to ride the full 174km of it! Able to be broken up into bite-sized pieces for the leisurely rider, the trail will take you on a journey through the outskirts of Richmond and along wooden boardwalks submerged in the wide-open surrounds of the Waimea Estuary. As you head toward the sandy beach at Moturoa (also known as ‘Rabbit Island’ for its supposed bunny-like shape), keep an eye out for the white herons, royal spoonbill and bar-tailed godwits who play in the inlet and dive playfully through the peppercress bushes. Stop off for refreshments at a nearby vineyard, or visit the renowned Hoglund Art Glass studio before continuing on your Great Taste Trail expedition. It is worth noting that the Motueka Valley section of the trail from Riwaka will bring you along country roads running parallel to the riverbank, over the Dovedale Hill and back toward Wakefield. This is the most challenging part of the route and includes steep ascents up to 300m before it returns to flat cycle lanes that will bring you back to Nelson.
You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to indulgence in Central Richmond. Home to the largest mall in the Top of the South, as well as a range of boutique stores and eateries dotted along the main street, Richmond is the main shopping precinct in the Tasman District. Pamper yourself at the day spas and hairdressers and spend up large at the retail outlets, before savouring the unbeatable taste of the cabinet food at the Swiss Bakery, enjoying a delectable slice of cake at the Oxford Street Kitchen + Roastery, or relaxing in the sun with a picnic at Sundial Square.
Nelson Tasman is home to the largest boysenberry crop in the world, so it’s probably not surprising that our favourite part about the summertime is the delight of going on a traditional berry picking adventure. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, the berry fields are alive with the squeals of excited children and the sweet sound of laughter ringing through the trees. Proudly carrying their punnets which are full to the brim with vibrant, fresh berries, you can’t help but salivate at the thought of the sugary pavlova that the berries will adorn. Top tip: the best way to end a berry picking adventure is lazing under the shade sails with a real fruit icecream!
The town of Richmond is in close proximity to a number of braided rivers and sheltered swimming holes. During the warmer months, you’ll find people splashing around in the shallows of the Aniseed River or seeking out a quiet swimming hole along the length of the Lee. Further afield, the flowing Motueka River has proven to be a prime location for the annual River Raft Party – the place where pink floating flamingos, dogs on blow up mattresses and kids in tyre tubes all come together for a fun afternoon floating gently downstream.
If you’re visiting during Speedway season (usually October through March), you won’t want to miss out on a fun filled night at the track, located just a few minutes out of Richmond Central. Watch the stockcars battle it out, nudging bumpers and turning tight corners, dusting the audience in dirt as they cheer from the sidelines. Top tip: A visit to the Speedway wouldn’t be complete without indulging on the kiwi cuisine of choice; a battered hotdog and some sauce slathered chips!
In the heart of Richmond, you’ll discover the magical Washbourn Gardens, curtained by the foliage of pine and oak trees, and home to an extraordinary rose garden. The perfect place for a relaxing picnic lunch, the gardens are frequented by locals and visitors looking to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. A thriving fuschia house and fernery sit amongst the stunning grounds, and a begonia building blazes in a mass of vibrant colours. Further afield in Hope, Gardens of the World is another iconic outdoor attraction, where visitors can revel in the beauty of native and exotic plants as they move amongst the displays, from the outback to the orient.
The 12km drive down Aniseed Valley Road will land you in the Hackett Carpark, the beginning of a 2 hour easy return walk to Richmond’s very own ‘hidden gem’, Whispering Falls. Journeying underneath the shelter of native podocarp forest, across wooden swing bridges and along the side of the Hackett River, the beauty that surrounds you is just a small glimpse into what awaits at the end of the trail. For nestled in the depths of the Aniseed Valley is a series of waterfalls that resemble a light rain shower, trickling down through water-formed crevices and lightly pattering on the limestone rock below.
The mighty Richmond Ranges are home to a network of grade 3+ mountain bike trails sure to provide the adrenaline rush advanced riders are looking for. With names such as ‘Bermed Monster’ and ‘Slippery Rail’, the trails certainly live up to expectations with a range of rugged downhill descents, tight elevated corners, and challenging switchbacks to choose from. Alternatively, if you’re new to mountain biking but still looking for a bit of heart-pumping fun, Rabbit Island is home to a forested bike park suitable for beginners. With 3km of gently undulating trails weaving underneath the forest ceiling and around banked corners, it’s no wonder this beachside location is a popular destination for keen riders.
A true feast for the senses awaits you in the outskirts of Richmond, and we assure you it’s well worth the short journey out there. First stop is Freshbake, to the left of the bumpy Brightwater bridge. Here you can attempt to dazzle your taste buds with their 1kg doughnut challenge, and even get your money back if you can complete it. And if that doesn’t subside your sugar cravings, the next stop is HQ Café & Bar for one of their famous Xtreme shakes, adorned with easter eggs, cookies, meringues, sour snakes and doughnuts. No topping is beyond imagination for the creative foodies in their kitchen! Last but not least, a little further out to Wakefield and you’ll find a small-town bakery of big town quality. A cabinet full of world-class pies, pastries, salad rolls and sweet treats makes walking out of there empty handed an almost impossible feat! P.s. don’t tell your dentist…
Spanning several regions, the forest-covered mountain country between Nelson and Blenheim is not for the faint-hearted and is dissected by a network of tracks of varying difficulty. The Mount Richmond Forest Park is home to some of the steepest summits in the Top of the South, some of which involve an entire day of relentless climbing, and should only be attempted by experienced and confident hikers. One of our favourite trails begins at the Dun Mountain Trail in Nelson and offers the perfect opportunity to experience two extraordinary aspects of the Nelson Tasman region; the upper Pelorus Valley and the historic tramway. From here, you’ll traverse the undulating track set high above the river gorges, underneath the shelter of the forest canopy. Then, scramble to the summit of Mount Fell, and enjoy stunning views out over the Wairau Plains, Tasman Bay, and the Pelorus Valley.