There’s Something About Mapua. (Mapua, New Zealand)

(That’s MAH-pua, not Muh-POO-a; less emphasis on the ‘poo’.)

sunset Mapua New Zealand
The beautiful end to another perfect day.

Disclaimer: Not sponsored. Did it for love.

If you’re wondering where to go for your next summer holiday, want gorgeous beaches and sunny days, with great food and wilderness experiences and a laid back vibe without huge crowds, I suggest you get your arse to Tasman, in the north of Enzed’s (N.Z.’s) South Island.

I love it there! We recently stayed in Mapua for a week and I can’t wait to go back. Here’s why.

Why You Should Get Your Arse to Mapua Next Summer:

Medland's Beach, Abel Tasman National Park NZ
Medland’s Beach in Abel Tasman National Park. Good old Vern had the right idea, methinks!


Summer holiday = sun + outdoors. Bet you thought you couldn’t get those together in New Zealand, didn’t you? At least not much. Well you were wrong. The northern end of the South Island gets the most sunny days of anywhere in the country. And it’s stunning.

Handy to Nelson.

Mapua’s a great base of operations. We flew Gold Coast to Auckland, then a straight shot down to Nelson, followed by an easy 25 minute drive to Mapua. Went to Nelson a few times, including  a Saturday morning at the Nelson Markets (OMG incredible pulled pork and coleslaw wrap from a food truck) and then later ferried the boys to Saxton Oval to sort of watch the NZ Black Caps play Sri Lanka (rained out – well, Tasman does need some rain!)

Accessible wilderness.

It’s also handy (less than 30km) to Abel Tasman National Park, which, as you know, I lurve. It’s a gorgeous piece of Earth where you can tramp, camp, kayak, swim, cruise, eat, drink, mountain bike, or just lie like a puddle on a beach soaking up rays.

The beaches...
The beaches… the bays…
…wandering the bush for days…

Mapua Wharf.

Mouthwatering fush’n’chups at The Smokehouse, browsing at the galleries, waterfront dining at The Apple Shed and other restaurants, a bear… sorry, beer at The Golden Bear Brewing Co., all this and outdoor music gigs.

Salmon with a leek tart. I had half of this plus half of J's seafood chowder.
Smoked king salmon with leek and potato tart from The Apple Shed. I had half, plus half of J’s lamb rump with vegie stack, PLUS we shared a seafood chowder. So very… nommy…

After all that, if the tide’s in (and you can still move) you can enjoy the traditional local pastime of flinging yourself off the wharf into Waimea Estuary and riding the current down to the campground.

Mapua Wharf jump
WOOHOO! By the way, if you happen to come in August look before you jump as pods of orcas come into the estuary to chase stingrays, sometimes coming right up to the wharf to perv!
Fly, Big Girl, FLY!!

Finn getting his daredevil on.

Finn getting his daredevil on.

Claire showing us how it's done.
Susie, showing us how it’s done.

The beaches!

Rabbit Island New Zealand

The beaches in the Abel (I accidentally typoed Anel! heheh) Tasman NP are a must. But also beautiful and much closer is the main beach on Rabbit Island – 8km of shallow warm water and gentle swells.

Rabbit Island Moturoa NZ
Ready… set…

It’s got a great relaxed vibe, is safe for the kids and has acres of room to run around.

kids at Rabbit Island Moturoa New Zealand

kids at Rabbit Island Moturoa

kids at Rabbit Island Moturoa beach

The tide goes waaay out so the beach is also ideal for ball sports; our cricket-mad boys bogged into no less than three games during one visit. Everyone was so relaxed and friendly!

Yet another cricket game!
Finn about to get all Steve Smith up in here.

Finn’s quite the all-rounder for a seven year old and I was quite chuffed when he was told he should play for the New Zealand Black Caps… and he said he wanted to play for Australia. (Go you good thing!) Roars got in there too, hit a few but preferred to be the wickie, or run around in the midfield where I was positive he was going to get drilled in the head with the ball.

Mountain Biking.

mtb Rabbit Island Great Taste Trail Moturoa NZ

We had but a sip of The Great Taste Trail, riding around Rabbit Island with the boys for half a day, but there’s loads of bike tracks in the area, with a few requiring first gear and plenty of guts!

Small town friendliness.

Casual chats in line at the shops, charming waitstaff, people willing to open up their cricket game to total strangers, smiles and hello from people passing on the street. That stuff matters.

Boathaven Cottage
Out the front of Boathaven Cottage. Until 13 years ago it was a boatbuilder’s shed!

The owners of the bach where we stayed were especially lovely, coming by to check on us and even having fresh home-baked bread and other goodies waiting for us when we arrived. A real home away from home.

The Naked Bun.

Great name for a bakery, isn’t it? Of course  J and his brother instantly renamed it ‘The Nude Bum’. It became our regular stop for great coffee and yummy, yummy baked goods.

Yummm what to have?
Yummm what to have? OMNOM caaake. And I’m quite partial to a brownie. And there’s a fine selection of healthy wraps and quiches too blah blah blah cake please!
Roars, modelling a read-to-scoff chocolate pastry.
Roars, modelling a choccie pastry maybe three sizes too big for him.
yummy chocolate brownie, The Naked Bun bakery Mapua NZ
Food porn at The Nude Bum.

Jester House cafe in Ruby Bay just up the road.

Not your ordinary cafe...
Not your ordinary cafe…

The grounds extend several hundred square metres and include a giant chess set, a mini Maori wharenui meeting house, the kind of adventure playground we used to have back home before the fun police ruined everything, and a pond with tame eels you can feed with mince on a popstick.

One fellow was super keen and wriggled out of the water to taste Rory’s shoe. Roars wasn’t fazed. He even let me suspend him over the water so he could reach out to stroke it on the back. He said it was “all gooey”. I patted it too, and it was slippery as… er, an eel.

Here, boy!
Here, boy! Finn sussed it all out first, but had a go too.
There was also a sweet old moggy hanging around trying to intercept mince on its way to the water. She probably got some; judging by the eels’ half-arsed grabs at some of the popsticks they were already pretty full. But still eating. …Could we somehow be related?
OMG I'm sooo full.
“OMG I’m like sooo full. I absolutely couldn’t eat another thi- …okay just one more.”

In addition, the inside is adorned with creations by local artists and sculptors – art to entertain you while your delicious food is prepared!

So, after all that, do you agree with me, Mapua is the duck’s nuts? Maybe you’ve already been to Tasman; where’d you base yourself? Did you see the other national parks – Kahurangi and Nelson Lakes? What are your favourite bits?

– Michelle

starry sky, Mapua New Zealand

6 Comments Add yours

  1. M.I.L.K. says:

    You’re killing me, here I’m trapped in the wrong damn hemisphere and it’s all gray, wet misery!


    1. Michelle says:

      Aw I’m sorry mate! But isn’t it spring up there… it’ll be loverly soon(ish) and we’ll be the ones freezing our tits off. 🙂 Also, thank you for commenting right when you did because I’m starting to feel a bit “why the fuck am I doing this blog” at the moment. Is that how you were a couple weeks back? Maybe it’s going around. Anyway if you enjoy it (even if it kills you) then it’s worth it 🙂


      1. M.I.L.K. says:

        Yeah, the shouting into the void thing gets a bit old, especially when people you actually know, in person, don’t read your crap! I had to remember that I’m doing this for myself, anyways, and give myself permission to NOT do it when I just wanted to write a fantasy novel instead.


        1. Michelle says:

          EVERYONE needs to read your crap! It’s awesome! But bring on the fantasy novel – I still haven’t written any more FF but the ideas are rolling around up there.


  2. This place looks gorgeous!! I’m so impressed by your photography skills, too! I was literally salivating at the sweets you had, and I really like your action shots at the beach. Pictures just turn out so much better when you don’t have people lining up to say cheese. 🙂 I like that you caught everyone in action (or mid-dive, mid-run in to the ocean.) This is definitely going to be added to the bucket list!!!!


    1. Michelle says:

      Thanks Schnitty, you’re making me all gooey! 🙂 I don’t do posed shots very often both because I prefer candid shots but also because none of my guys – hubby included – are particularly helpful when asked to sit/stand still and smile for a millisecond. In fact whenever I grab the camera husband usually mocks groans and rolls his eyes and accuses me of ‘ruining the moment’! Exsqueeze me? Ruining? I’m preserving it!! 🙂


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