Jump from the wharf and ride the tide is a rite of passage for locals and there is nothing better than fish n chips and then watch the tidal rise and fall to judge the best time to jump. The exhilaration, the adrenaline of Mapua jump the wharf. Check with locals first about safety and the right time to join the club.
Mapua Ferry is a mere 10 minute ferry ride to Rabbit Island, yet the magic of a ferry ride is not diminished by the short journey. Take your bike and catch a ride to Rabbit Island, it gets very busy in summer and it is a good idea to forward book in the peak season. For further details check out Mapua Ferry – Nelson. Across the channel from the new floating wharf pontoons is Rabbit Island. Motoroa or Rabbit Island is the largest of a group of sandy islands lying in the Waimea Estuary, and along the seaward side there is more than 8km of safe sandy swimming beaches.
Bird watchers have the Waimea Estuary, the largest in the South Island to pop onto their bucket list destinations. The inlet is of international importance for migratory bird species and is of national significance for other endangered or threatened species. These include birds such as bar-tailed godwit, white heron, Caspian and black-fronted terns, variable oystercatcher, Australasian bittern, and banded rail, and plants such as coastal peppercress and grey saltbush. The inlet is important to life-cycle stages of fish species, which are dependent on the continuity and sequence of habitats from the streams, through the inlet, and to Tasman Bay, being maintained. For more information check out Waimea Inlet Forum. Bird watchers hot spot at low tide and photographers can practice their rapid movement shots with the birds.
Explore wharf galleries. Cool Store gallery has a collection of over 150 painters, jewellers and sculptures providing choice for visitors. Forest Fusion Functional Art is impressive stainless steel sculptures which include wind sculptures, and gorgeous Tui and Fantails. Perhaps not easy to squash into the suitcase. Shipping can be arranged. There are ranging pewter as the medium for decorative objects, prints and homeware ware pieces. Shoppers can spend a satisfying afternoon browsing what Mapua Wharf has to offer.
Port Mapua Maritime Museum is a quiet corner of the wharf. The Museum is a reminder of a historic working wharf that was responsible for the shipment of produce and fish from the area. The Museum is supported and managed by volunteers under the auspices of the Mapua Boat Club. There is a record of history and events that have shaped the wharf’s past. The photo collective is extensive. At the Mapua museum you can walk through the rich maritime history of Nelson and its coastline of Tasman and Golden Bay and enjoy photos and video interactive displays along with maritime memorabilia detailing the wharf’s history. It is always fascinating poring over old photos of trading and passenger vessels, the cargo carried and unfortunate maritime accidents on the Mapua sandbar. The Museum documents the role early Maori played and the intimate knowledge traditional custodians played in the area. The Museum is supported and managed by volunteers under the auspices of the Mapua Boat Club.Open 7 days a week, 9am-4pm Free, donations welcome.
Cheers to a local brew, Golden Beer Brewery is located at the wharf. Golden Bear Brewing Company is a great place to catch up with friends, enjoy craft brewed beers, listen to live music, soak up the views from the outdoor seating and sample dishes reflecting flavours from California, Mexico and Southwest America. For details about their operations and menu check out Golden Bear Brewing.
Moturoa / Rabbit Island Exploration. Mapua Wharf is in the heart of the cycling trails, the Great Taste Trail and others making Rabbit Island a popular spot to visit. There are various trails around the Island identified by the names of various picnic areas. There are signs along the foreshore pointing to beach access. Visitors can cycle through the Reserve to Richmond via the Waimea swing bridge and onto the boardwalks which appear to float above the estuary. Keep an eye out for birdlife flitting among the peppercress estuary bushes. The public reserve has toilets, changing sheds and BBQ. Remember to check the Reserve gate opening and closing hours which are updated and posted on entrance signs.
TRAVEL PACK INFORMATION
Mapua means abundance and the rich waters of the Waimea Estuary have attracted settlers from early Maori through to the bustling community that has grown up around the Mapua Wharf today. The photo museum operated at the wharf by the Mapua Boat Club records this history and events that have shaped the growth of the wharf.
A half hour drive from Nelson
A short 25 minute drive from Nelson, the Mapua Wharf makes a great day out with friends and family. The waterfront park includes an amphitheatre for public concerts and the ferry service connects Rabbit Island with the Mapua Wharf as part of the Great Taste Trail cycleway.
Cycling from Richmod (Nelson) is on the flat easy route of the Great Taste Trail.
Fitness types can cycle the Richmond to Mapua section of the Great Taste Trail and follow the coastline of Waimea Inlet and on to Rabbit Island. Built to accommodate cyclists and foot passengers, the ferry is a 10-minute trip from Rabbit Island to Mapua wharf. 19.8 km
- Length: 19.8 km (Reservoir Creek to western end of Rabbit Island)
- Duration: Required 1-2 hr by MTB
- Trail Type: Shared track
- Physical Difficulty: Easy
The journey is worth it.