This drive combines all that makes a visit to Nelson and its surrounding locations so memorable—beaches, forest walks, craft galleries, wineries and cafes.

Written by       Illustrated by Geographx


Via SH 6 & SH 60

Nelson/Richmond and environs

Nelson city brims with cafes and restaurants. Highly recommended are Hopgoods, Bar Delicious, Broccoli Row and the Suter Gallery Cafe (by Queens Gardens) in the central city, or The Boatshed on the waterfront. Continuing south on SH 6 you soon reach Stoke, location of the World of Wearable Art (WoW) Gallery—the must-visit centre of the internationally renowned Montana WoW Awards Show. There is a good cafe here and the classic car museum next door is also a popular attraction.

Richmond is 14 km south of Nelson on SH 6 on the edge of Waimea Estuary and the Waimea Plains. SH 60 turns toward Motueka and Golden Bay at a roundabout south of Richmond. Between Richmond and Mapua are numerous wineries, cafes and craft galleries (all well signposted, but grab a handy local map), notably Waimea Estate’s Cafe in the Vineyard, Seifried Estate Winery and Silkwood Arts and Crafts. Redwood Road, 6 km from Richmond, leads to Rabbit Island, one of the region’s best beaches.

Mapua/Ruby Bay/Tasman

SH 60 allows glimpses of Waimea Estuary as you travel toward Mapua—a pleasant seaside hamlet at the mouth of the Waimea Estuary which has several cafes, including the long established Smokehouse Cafe. Try also the Naked Bun bakery and cafe for their sophisticated take on pastries (their custard squares are phenomenal), cakes and breads, or Hamish’s for ice creams—a must for liquorice lovers. Mapua’s aquarium is small, but highly recommended for the kids.

Ruby Bay has Dido’s for takeaway or eat-in curry and pizza, and a couple of excellent winery cafes nearby, including Ruby Bay Wines. Tasman’s Jester House Cafe, with its spacious garden, playground and tame eels, has long been a family favourite, and the food is great too.


After Tasman and the drive around Moutere Inlet you reach Motueka (45 minutes from Nelson). A decent coffee can be found together with local and organic produce at the Toad Hall store (at the southern end of town). For a good cafe meal try the Arcadia Organic Cafe in the main shopping area. Motueka’s swimming beach and saltwater baths are on Wharf Road (turn right at the roundabout on the southern edge of the town).

Motueka–Kohatu Junction SH 61

A useful shortcut to SH 6 for those travelling from Golden Bay to the Lewis Pass and Christchurch. The road follows the eastern flanks of Kahurangi National Park along the Motueka River, an outstanding trout fishing river. To access the park, turn off at Ngatimoti for the Mt Arthur road end, and at Tapawera for the Wangapeka Track. Both access roads are unsealed. Tapawera is the largest locality on SH 61, with a garage and store.

Richmond–Motueka via the Moutere Highway

This alternative inland route, with views of the Mt Arthur Range, is sometimes quicker than the busier SH 60. It turns off SH 60 just past the Waimea River bridge. Kahurangi Winery Cafe is located just before Upper Moutere, while Neudorf vineyard is located north of Upper Moutere village—take a picnic, buy a bottle of their wine and enjoy the vineyard setting. The excellent Riverside Cafe is on the outskirts of Motueka at Lower Moutere.

More by

More by Geographx