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A day out exploring the region on sections of this scenic urban and coastal cycle trail is a must! 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 Rabbit Island, 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 along the way. 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.
Photo: Wheelie Fantastic
2. Shop til you drop on Queen Street
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.
Photo: Richmond Unlimited
3. Visit Old Factory Corner
Old Factory Corner is quickly becoming the go-to place in Richmond, a boutique hospitality and retail centre showcasing local produce and artisans. Dine alfresco in the gardens at Grape Escape Cafe, taste test artisanal cheeses at The Junction Cheese Shop, restock your pantry at GoodFor refillery, gather fresh produce from the Connings Food Market, get your creative juices flowing at Crafty or Wot or indulge in a real fruit icecream at the Berrylands pop-up. What's more, during the summer months, the berry fields down the road come alive with the squeals of excited children as they proudly carry around their punnets, filled to the brim with fresh, juicy berries. Nelson Tasman is the boysenberry capital of the world, so don't miss out on the summertime delight of a traditional berry picking adventure after you've explored Old Factory Corner!
4. Explore vineyards and breweries
From the vineyards and boutique wineries in the Waimea Plains to the breweries and hop gardens in Tapawera, Brightwater and Riwaka, craft flavours and unique tastes abound in Nelson Tasman. With stony soils of alluvial origin and high sunshine hours, the Waimea Plains are renowned for producing aromatic, fruity and vibrant wines. There are plenty of opportunities to visit cellar doors or dine in vineyard restaurants as you make your way along the Wine Trail, whether you choose to self-drive (with a sober driver of course), hop on a bike, or join in on a guided tour. Meanwhile, if craft beer is more your thing, there's no better place to immerse in a beer trail than in the craft brewing capital of New Zealand where you'll find pizzeria breweries, tasting rooms and seaside bars with live music.
5. Visit a heritage village
On the first Sunday of every month, Willowbank Heritage Village opens their gates to the public. Truly one of the region's hidden gems, you can browse the character village and vintage shop displays, dress up in heritage clothing, dine at their burger bar, listen to live music, have a tea party, savour jam and cream scones, test out their shooting range, amble through a secret garden, or enjoy coffee from their 100-year old coffee machine. This fun and interactive living museum offers plenty of fun for the whole family to step back in time and reminisce on days gone by - there are even Bakelite phones so little ones can make phone-calls to other display shops around the village!
Photo: Braden Fastier, Stuff.co.nz
6. Explore some of the stunning gardens
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.
Photo: Kimberly John
7. Take a scenic stroll to Whispering Falls
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.
Photo: Tamzin Henderson
8. Make a splash at the swimming holes
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.
Photo: Aimee Macquet
9. Visit some of the local food joints
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…
10. Go on a mountainbiking adventure
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.