The village of Upper Moutere and it’s environs are a cycling heaven. And if you have never been to the Nelson region or have not had a chance to explore, this area is a must-see. After all, this is the region that inspired the early modernist painters such as Doris Lusk and Bill Sutton and has attracted arty types ever since. The hills of the beautiful Moutere area were covered in apple orchards then, whilst now you may see more vineyards than apples, but that isn’t all bad! Upper Moutere is a detour off the Great Taste Trail but we think it is well worth the ride – as long as you are happy cycling on roads. We recommend a stopover in Mapua en route. The village here is a beauty and if you enjoy a bustling holiday atmosphere, come during January – but book your accommodation early. The wharf at Mapua is now home to cafes and artsy, foody places, but not so long ago it was the loading point for ships, taking those fabulous Nelson apples to far flung ports. The photographs in the little museum on the wharf are a fascinating record of this history. A personal foody favourite in Mapua is the Naked Bun Cafe, where the European style baking is pretty jolly good.
The section of the off-road Great Taste Cycle Trail from Stoke (that’s where our HQ is) to Mapua via Rabbit Island (that’s where all the locals go to swim and picnic) is now open. That’s great news for cyclists looking for a ride that combines lots of Nelson’s best things – beaches, fresh fruit stalls, cafes, wineries, a craft brewery, what more would anyone want? Continue reading
The Great Taste Trail just got even greater, with the opening of the newest section to Brightwater, a pretty little village 21 km from Nelson city centre. The beer at the village pub is chilled and ready for some serious thirst-quenching, the impressive new blue suspension bridge is primed and ready and the blue trail markers are up.
Cycling in Nelson just got even better with the official opening of the first section of the 175km Great Taste Trail. This section of the Great Taste Trail is at Rabbit Island Reserve (20 kms from Nelson airport). The connecting section, to link with Richmond (on the outskirts of Nelson city) is due for completion in October 2012.
March is the month of the hop harvest in Nelson, when the fields that were curtained in green lose their flavour-laden curtain – until next year. At Kentishman Hops in Upper Moutere, the hop harvest rekindles images from my past, when tractors were smaller and closer to the ground and farmers still wore straw hats (yeah!)
Whenever I spend time cycling in the Moutere area, just half an hour out of Nelson city, I come home feeling I have been somewhere special. Not only is it my favourite sort of landscape (soft, green and gently rolling) it is also dotted with lots of reminders of its agricultural history. The old farm buildings seem to be hidden behind hedges and under trees everywhere you go. The oak tree sheltering this little shed must be even older than the shed.