Wakefield there are plenty of things to do. Unearth a village close to Nelson (24 km) yet a world away in its quiet rural setting. Mountain bike parks, rivers, vineyards, beaches and walking trails galore.
TOP SIGHTS, WHAT TO DO
ST JOHN’S ANGLICAN CHURCH
St John’s Church (Anglican) in Wakefield was designed in 1846 by Marianne Reay (c.1804-unknown), making it the first known piece of New Zealand architecture designed by a woman, and one of only two buildings known to have been designed by a woman in nineteenth century New Zealand history. It is the oldest surviving church in the South Island and one of the oldest in the country, in remarkably original condition, making it a well-preserved example of early New Zealand church design. Source Heritage Trust, church has Category I status.
Wakefield, one of the earliest European settlements has one of the oldest churches in New Zealand and the longest continuously attended schools.
Wairoa Gorge Mountain Bike Park. Thrills on the 70 km customised trial tracking through native beech forest. Maximum elevation is 1200m.
GARDENS OF THE WORLD. A private garden open to the public with garden themes showcasing different plant species for Asia, Europe and the Americans. There is a dedicated New Zealand zone. Streams, picnic areas and cafes are onsite.
MAKE YOUR OWN KNIFE. Join a workshop and find out what it’s like to manufacture a steel knife.
Carol’s Emporium. Adore second hand shopping, Clothing, bric-a-brac, collectables, you name it, it is possible Carol has it somewhere. Preloved treasures for you to linger over on the main street of Wakefield.
WHERE TO TAKE A SELFIE
- Your newly fashioned steel knife
- Paintball splashes as you try to avoid nimble kids
- The heritage St John’s church
WHAT TO DO WITH THE KIDS
Higgins Heritage Park & Steam Museum
Higgins Park and it’s family of museums is the home to a large variety of exhibits ranging from hand tools to New Zealand’s largest portable steam engine. Other rarities include the last known, original, 1913 International 15hp tractor in the world; a superbly restored R & P tractor from 1918, one of only three remaining; the Rover Club of Nelson’s club rooms designed as an old garage with antique petrol pumps and of course, the original sawmill. This outdoor experience is a must-do for kids of all ages. Check beforehand for opening hours to avoid disappointment.
Armageddon Paintball, Nelson’s paintball field is located in Wakefield.
Willowbank Heritage Village is in hibernation. The village is open for group bookings.
WHO TURNED UP AND NAMED THE PLACE
- The history of Wakefield as a European settlement started in 1843, when it was originally called Pitfure. However the name was soon changed to Wakefield. This name was after the town of Wakefield in Yorkshire, and not, as many assume, after Captain Arthur Wakefield who led the expedition that first established Nelson City and Province. Wakefield is notable for Wakefield Primary School, the oldest school in continuous usage in New Zealand. It was set up in 1843 by Mary Ann Baigent, the wife of Edward Baigent. Source History of Wakefield
- A great option for a stay in the country pub.
Every town adds to the richness of things to do and see. For more details about the region check Nelson & Nelson Region nearby attractions and events.
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