Our sunny climate – and the water, water all around – make this region the perfect spot for getting hot, cooling off, and enjoying the wildlife that make their homes in the rivers and estuaries. Here are six of our favourite watery spots for you to try!
1. Kina Peninsula, campground and beach
Kina Peninsula is a super spot to explore. With the estuary on one side (creating a huge, calm lagoon for kayaking and swimming around high tide) and the rocky beaches and bay on the other, you have plenty of choice. If the tide’s in, swim in the warmed water, heated as it slides in from Tasman Bay. If it’s out, become an amateur marine biologist and discover the crabs and other creatures that live in the tidal rock pools. Remember to treat them gently, and put your new friends back where found them.
And if you want to stay the night, the Kina Beach campground is just $5 per adult per night.
2. Motueka River – swimming paradise
The river is our region’s biggest, and our favourite aqua playground. There are multiple swimming holes, with the easiest access at the Motueka Bridge, the Alexander Bluff Bridge and the Peninsula Bridge. Or, you might try rafting down its relatively gentle rapids (a tyre innertube works well – but don’t forget your life jacket!). There are plenty of fly-fishing opportunities, or you can just spend an afternoon with the kids while splashing, wading, and enjoying the peace and pastoral beauty of the Motueka Valley.
3. Motueka estuary walk
The estuary loop walk (as you enter town from the south) is a wonderful effort by the Keep Motueka Beautiful group and local community. Take 45 minutes to walk the entire estuary. Admire the native plantings, the network of tracks and the black swans, herons and spoonbills as they wade and feed. You might even spot a rare white heron (kōtuku), visiting from their breeding spot at Okarito on the West Coast.
But if the tide’s out, where do you swim? Well, we have a great secret, and it’s not far away…
4. Motueka Salt Water Baths
As you enter Motueka from the south, turn right at the roundabout and head east for the sea. The salt water swimming pool is at the end of the road (near the estuary loop), and it fills with fresh sea water when the tide’s in. When the tide recedes again, you don’t have to chase it for a swim – just jump in the baths! There’s a shallow pool at one end for the little ones, and a beautiful view across the bay toward the sand spit, Nelson and the Marlborough Sounds. The spit is home to migratory and wading birds like godwits (who fly back and forth from Alaska), oyster catchers, herons, stilts and many others. You can access it from the north end of Motueka.
5. Kaiteriteri Beach – Waka Abel Tasman
Famous for its golden sands and blue waters, Kaiteriteri beach is the home of Waka Abel Tasman. For a truly special canoeing experience for all ages, head out into the bay with Lee-Anne and Todd from this family-run enterprise. You’ll learn to paddle as a team and enjoy the sparkling vistas from the water. And integral to the trip, you’ll also get a warm and inclusive introduction to Māori customs and protocol around this historic activity, making it a meaningful trip that you’ll never forget.
6. Stream dipping
As you head back towards Richmond or Nelson for the rest of your travels, stop by and see us at Animal Farm for some freshwater stream dipping. We have a creek where you can get your feet cool, catch and release the tiny native crayfish, and discover other little watery creatures.
And don’t forget to visit our ‘land’ animals too – they come in many shapes, sizes and ages, to suit people of all shapes, sizes and ages too!
And while you’re drying off. . . .
Get hands-on with us: cheer on the goats in their daily races and help bottle feed the kid goats and lambs (11am and 3pm), pet the bunnies, ride a donkey or pony, feed the ostrich and emu, and walk a llama! Or you can play on the dirt pile and in the sandpit with other humans.
Have a wonderful summer holiday in Nelson area – we hope you get lots of water play in, and we look forward to welcoming you to Animal Farm.