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Your guide to Motueka
All About Motueka
Located on the northwestern coast of the South Island, Motueka is a lively town that serves as the gateway to some of New Zealand’s most popular national parks. The town center, just steps from the stunning shoreline of the Tasman Bay (in Māori, Te Tai-o-Aorere), is bustling with boutique shops, mom-and-pop restaurants, galleries, and artist collectives. Just outside downtown you’ll find aquamarine waters, lush forests, and one of the world’s longest sand spits, making Motueka a great place for hiking, swimming, wildlife spotting, and photography.
During your visit, you can take a walk to the Riuwaka Resurgence, a sacred underground spring surrounded by native forest, or explore the lively rapids and hidden pools along the Motueka River. Even more spectacular terrain can be found in Abel Tasman National Park and Kahurangi National Park, both a short drive from town.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Motueka?
With cool and pleasant weather throughout the year, all four seasons are a great time to seek out Motueka accommodations. Remember that seasons in the Southern Hemisphere are opposite to those in the US. During the summer (November through February), take advantage of the comfortably warm temperatures by taking a kayak onto the bay or hopping on one of the many boat tours that explore the coastline. January and February are generally the driest months of the year. The rains pick back up in March, and while the winter months (May through September) are rarely cold, they do get wet and overcast, and the town quiets down. This is still a wonderful time to explore Motueka, but you may want to check with activity operators to see if they are still running tours. All year long, you can join the locals shopping at Motueka’s Sunday market and pick up freshly baked goods, artisanal products, and vintage and hand-crafted clothing.
What are the top things to do in Motueka?
Motueka District Museum
Located in the center of the city in a former highschool building, the Motueka District Museum features permanent and rotating exhibits dedicated to the history of the Motueka region and its peoples. The museum honors the town’s Māori roots while exploring its history of European settlement, and pays homage to the importance of the horticultural and fishing industries to the region.
Abel Tasman National Park
Located just a 20-minute drive from Motueka, this national park is located along the shore of Te Tai-o-Aorere (Tasman Bay). It is famous for its untouched forests and golden-sand beaches. The Abel Tasman Coastal Track, which takes three to five days to hike, leads you over headlands and through lush native forests before reaching a series of pristine beaches. You can also explore the park by water in a sea kayak or on a boat tour.
Tasman Great Taste Trail
This 100-mile-long cycling trail connects Nelson with Motueka and the surrounding region, and the section near Motueka makes for an ideal day trip. Cycle along narrow lanes through verdant valleys, stopping at fruit stands to recharge. If you make it as far as Kaiteriteri Mountainbike Park, 8 miles north of town, you’ll unlock a whole new adventure: Its 25 rolling mountain-bike trails wind through open terrain as well as dense forests.