If you’re looking for things to do in Nelson which includes a beautiful, scenic ride with lots of tasty pit stops along the way, you’re in for a treat. It was a sunny summer day in Nelson this January as I set out on what would be my second riding experience with Trail Journeys (the first was cycling on the Otago Central Rail trail).
Nelson’s Trail Journeys chief guide, Sean, was so knowledgeable about the trails in the vicinity that I was convinced a visit to Nelson would not be complete without being on the famous Tasman’s Great Taste Trail. The Great Taste Trail is one of New Zealand’s 22 Great Rides.
The Great Taste Trail is 175km in total for the full loop, stretching from Nelson to Mapua via Tasman and Harley Roads to Motueka then on to Kaiteriteri, the gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park (location). That would be a journey of more than one day, but my agenda for the day is a full day tour option that stretches from Mapua (location) back to Nelson to uncover the sights between Nelson and Mapua.
What better way to do a wine tour than one at your own pace, while getting in some exercise?
At 9am, I picked up my sweet as (a New Zealand slang) mountain bike, fully geared with a printed map of the full route and an emergency bicycle repair kit that includes pumps, spare wheel tubes and a padlock from the Trail Journeys Nelson bike hire store, right next to Nelson i-SITE (location).
After the safety briefing, I hopped on their Trail Hopper minivan, and was driven by the friendly and helpful George all the way to Mapua, about 30 minutes away from Nelson. The Trail Hopper also offers pick-up for other cyclists along the way too.
Along the way, George gave me a good insight on what to expect by pointing out the different vineyards, orchards and attractions that we will pass on the Great Taste Trail with great enthusiasm, making me more excited for what’s to come! Once I reached the Mapua wharf, I grabbed a cup of mochaccino from a coffee shop while waiting to begin our journey.
The complimentary ferry shuttle between Mapua and Rabbit Island came not long after. As we disembarked the ferry with our bicycles in tow, there began our 38km cycling journey.
There were a couple of attractions along the way that made the Great Taste Trail so named, which I will share below.
- What to see on Tasman’s Great Taste Trail
- 1. Rabbit Island beachfront
- 2. Seifried Estate Winery
- 3. Connecting bridges
- 4. Along the waterway
- 5. Tasman Bay Berries
- 6. Te Mānia Wines & Richmond Plains
- 7. The Grape Escape
- 8. Richmond
- 9. The Honest Lawyer
- 10. Monaco Nelson Grand Mercure
- 11. World of Wearableart & Collectable Cars (WOW)
- 12. The Speight’s Ale House Nelson
- Tips on doing a wine bike tour
- Where to Stay in Nelson, New Zealand
What to see on Tasman’s Great Taste Trail
1. Rabbit Island beachfront
The Rabbit Island route is approximately 7km long from the ferry drop-off point to the bridge leading out of Rabbit Island. Along the way, you’ll be greeted by many amazing sights, from tall pine trees to waves crashing against the shore.
If you’ve brought picnic food, Rabbit Island offers many opportunities along the way for you to stop and refuel.
2. Seifried Estate Winery
At only NZD 5 for 5 great wines to sample, you’re going to enjoy this bargain. Seifried Estate Winery, started by Hermann Seifried and his New Zealand wife Agnes, is the oldest vineyard in Nelson, and it is here where they brew many great wines over the years.
The wine tasting selection allows you to sample 5 different wines: Aotea By Seifried Sauvignon Blanc, Seifried Riesling, Seifried Pinot Gris, Seifried Zwegelt and Seifried Winemakers Collection ‘Sweet Agnes’ Riesling.
My favourite of all has to be the ‘Sweet Agnes’ Riesling, which coincidentally is their flagship wine too. It embodies a luscious stonefruit, mandarin and zesty mouth-watering acidic taste.
You can also walk around their massive 250-hectare vineyards and learn about how the grapes and grown and harvested through the seasons.
Address: 184 Redwood Road, Appleby, 7081 Opening Hours: 10:00 - 17:00
3. Connecting bridges
The Rabbit Island route is approximately 7km long from the ferry drop-off point to the bridge leading out of Rabbit Island.
Along the way, you’ll be greeted by many amazing sights, from tall pine trees to waves crashing against the shore. If you’ve brought picnic food, you can stop at one of the many picnic tables along the way and just relax as you dig in.
4. Along the waterway
I was greeted to the sounds of ducks and swans waddling in the waters and birds chirping as they passed me by. The scenic backdrop of mountains after mountains behind the river streams and sea was certainly a refreshing sight for someone who’s been in the city all her life (yes, me).
5. Tasman Bay Berries
En route to Te Mania Wines & Richmond Plains, I stumbled upon this orchard, Tasman Bay Berries, that was a saving grace to the merciless summer heat.
Popular amongst families, it’s not difficult to see why. Little kids are scrambling about the rows of orchards, picking their own berries. You can pick your own (PYO) berries at NZD 7.50 per person.
The ice cream is surely not to be missed. Made with real fruit and at NZD 4.50 for a waffle cone, it’s the perfect treat for a warm summer day.
Another crowd favourite that I saw many getting was the berry smoothie, a great choice to keep you hydrated through New Zealand’s summer.
Note: This store is only open in the summer from December to February.
Address: 37 McShane Rd, Appleby 7081 Opening Hours: 09:30 - 17:00
6. Te Mānia Wines & Richmond Plains
Just a few minutes down from Tasman Bay Berries along McShane Road, Te Mānia Wines & Richmond Plains is a great stop to add if you’re in the mood for some amazing locally grown wine.
Te Mānia has an international reputation for producing fine wines. A two-time Champion of the prestigious Bragato Wine Awards, Te Mānia has created an enviable record for making excellent Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Riesling wines.
If that’s not enough to entice you, here’s one you wouldn’t be able to resist – wine tasting costs only NZD 2 per glass. Not bad at all!
Address: 108 McShane Rd, Richmond 7081 Opening Hours: 10:30 - 16:30
7. The Grape Escape
This Dutch-styled cafe is located at the end of McShane Road near State Highway 60 and you can’t miss it! I had to walk in to see what the hype was about. It was really busy during lunch time, with plenty of cars turning in.
There is a wide range of coffees, teas and drinks available at The Grape Escape on top of their meals menu, such as Loin of Pork, Thai Green Curry and Eggs Benedict. If you’re not in the mood for food or drinks, their cute garden is still worth a visit, with their iconic windmill right outside the door.
Address: Cnr McShane Road & SH 60, Nelson, Richmond 7081 Opening Hours: 10:00 - 16:00
Just 13km away from Nelson lies Richmond (location), a lively, vibrant town with a plethora of cafes and food options, and it’s not hard to see why it’s on the map of the Great Taste Trail.
As recommended by Sean, I made a quick detour and had a lunch break in Richmond. In between Thai food and modern cafes, I went with an avocado on toast with a side of kumara (sweet potato) chips.
I highly recommend giving this town a visit on your Great Taste Trail.
9. The Honest Lawyer
After a long cycle along the coast and past Nelson Airport, we landed up on the doors of The Honest Lawyer, a medieval-looking, old-school, British-style brick building housing a lively bar, restaurant and lodge. In fact, most of the surrounding buildings around here look really vintage.
Overlooking the sea, you can’t go wrong with a glass of beer from the Country Pub. The area is picturesque, making it an ideal rest stop in between our long cycling journey.
Address: 1 Point Rd, Monaco, Nelson 7011
10. Monaco Nelson Grand Mercure
Just across the road of The Honest Lawyer lies another brilliantly designed brick building hotel by Grand Mercure. As I was cycling away from The Honest Lawyer, I just had to stop on the grass patch across the road to take photos of the hotel.
While it might not be close to Nelson town or even Richmond, that means that you get the coast all to yourself, all while bar-hopping around the area!
Address: 6 Point Rd, Monaco, Nelson 7011
Search for your perfect accommodation on HotelsCombined, Agoda and Booking.com
11. World of Wearableart & Collectable Cars (WOW)
As you approach closer to Nelson town, you’ll see signs directing you to WOW. WOW is a museum that celebrates creativity in using your everyday products as garments on your body.
I was in awe of all the masterpieces that designers worldwide have submitted. It’s now a globally renowned competition, where designers compete for a grand NZD 165,000 in prize.
You can enter the museum and view it all for yourself. And yes, it is a welcoming, cooling break from the sweltering heat of the summer sun.
12. The Speight’s Ale House Nelson
My final stop before reaching Nelson town was The Speight’s Ale House Nelson, just across the road from WOW. It was one of those must go places in Nelson.
While I did not have the luxury of time to enjoy a proper meal, a glass of freshly brewed beer was enough to win me over. The ambience, the friendly staff and the smell of the food makes it a great experience, and I wish I had more time to enjoy a proper meal there.
Address: 99 Quarantine Rd, Annesbrook, Nelson 7011 Opening Hours: Monday - Wednesday 11:00 - 23:00, Thursday 11:00 - 00:00, Friday 11:00 - 03:00, Saturday 10:00 - 03:00, Sunday 10:00 - 23:00
Tips on doing a wine bike tour
1. Pack sunscreen
Sunscreen is exceptionally important in the summer. The hours riding can take a toll on our shoulders, so pack on those sunscreen and bring a pair of shades while you’re at it too.
2. Bring along some cash
It’s going to be a challenge resisting your urges to sample more wines than you should, so set off prepared!
3. Make space in your tummy
With loads of vineyards for wine tasting, orchards, cafes and delectable restaurants along the way, you’re going to need more space in your tummy.
4. Set off early
The earlier you set off, the more you’ll get to see! It’ll definitely give you more time to stop and admire everything around you. If one day is not enough, you can rent the bikes over a period of a few days (maybe 2 to 3 days) from the various bike rental stores around.
5. Bring along a camera (with spare batteries!)
Need I say more? With so many great sights along the way, you’ll be stopping far too often to snap pictures throughout your journey!
6. Hydrate yourself
Drink lots and lots of water so that you can enjoy the ride. If needed, stop by at one of the many rest points or cafes along the way to replenish your fluids.
7. Bring along a phone mount if needed
Navigating can get hard if you don’t exactly know your bearings while cycling. There will be plenty of signs along the way leading you back to Nelson, but if you ever want to steer off course, it’s always handy to have an offline map with GPS in your smartphone to guide you to those hidden gems you want to go to. I recommend Maps.me. Read all about how to use it offline here!
8. Wear proper attire
It’s going to be a long and bumpy ride, and if you cycle in the summer, it’s going to be really hot, so wear appropriate sports attire with proper footwear for a comfortable ride.
Where to Stay in Nelson, New Zealand
In case you want the best hotel deals in Nelson, I got it covered. 😉
So there, 38km passed like a breeze. With a fresh coat of tan, enriched by the sights of vineyards, animal farms and the coast, and a palate satisfied by freshly brewed beer and house wines, I returned the sturdy mountain bike. Trail cycling never felt more enjoyable!
Read the rest of my posts on New Zealand:
- New Zealand North Island Experiences To Check Off Your Bucketlist
- 5 Unmissable Things to Do in Rotorua, New Zealand (If You’re Tight on Time!)
- Mud Attack at Hell’s Gate Geothermal Park & Mud Spa, Rotorua, New Zealand
- What Exactly Happens When You’re Skydiving at 15,000 Ft in Taupo, New Zealand?
- New Zealand South Island Attractions You Must See On Your Road Trip
- 23 Things To Do in Queenstown, New Zealand, in Summer
- Running My First Overseas Marathon – The Air New Zealand Queenstown International Marathon
- My First REAL Horse Riding in Glenorchy, New Zealand
- Tips for Catching New Zealand’s Southern Lights
- Detailed Breakdown of My New Zealand Budget Trip – $2600 for 20 days!
- Living in New Zealand – Update 1 (Unfiltered)
- Living in New Zealand – What Does It Mean To Me?
- 6 Months in New Zealand, 4 Months in Fox Glacier – Thoughts & Revelations
- The Hidden Treasures New Zealand has to Offer
Special thanks to Trail Journeys for this experience! All opinions remain my own.
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3 Jan 2018, Wed