- Beaches & Bays
Rabbit Island is a safe and scenic beach just a short drive from the Richmond town centre. Originally formed approximately 7000 years ago when a series of barrier islands developed near the mouth of the Waimea River, Rabbit Island is the largest of three sandy islands in the Waimea Estuary.
A local favourite all year round, you’ll often find families, couples and groups of friends enjoying the BBQ facilities and picnic areas that backdrop the beach and cover the reserve. Christmas is particularly popular, and a day spent at Rabbit Island has become somewhat of a tradition for many kiwi families as they light up the barbies, play lawn games, splash around in the ocean and relax on the beach.
The 13km beach is connected with the Mapua Village by a cycle ferry, which transports cyclists travelling on Tasman’s Great Taste Trail to the next point in their journey. The bridge that connects Rabbit Island with the mainland offers a range of sightseeing pleasures for those travelling along the trail, and sightings of the diverse birdlife that play in the peppercress bushes of the estuary are not uncommon.
The various access roads that dissect the Rabbit Island Recreation Reserve can be a little confusing, but the best way to identify your location is by the names of the various picnic areas, or the signs along the foreshore indicating the beach access points.
Note: Rabbit Island is a monitored reserve that is closed overnight. The gates near the entrance are usually shut shortly after dark, but the exact time varies throughout the year.
Photo credits: (1) George Guille Media, (2) www.nelsontasman.nz, (3) Wheelie Fantastic, (4) Apple Pickers Cottages.