Things To Do in Mapua New Zealand, Nelson’s Hidden Gem

Locals may have wanted to keep Mapua to themselves for a little longer; however, judging by the number of shops, holiday houses and cafes increasing with every trip we make there, this hidden gem has already been outed. Located on the coast of Tasman Bay, in the picturesque Nelson Tasman region of New Zealand, Mapua holds a special place among visitors seeking a unique and relaxed experience. We have been visiting Mapua for over a decade; please keep reading as we unveil what Mapua is best known for, places to eat and the best things to do in Mapua New Zealand.

Mapua with view of boats and Rabbit Island

How to Get to Mapua

To begin your adventure in Mapua, you must first reach Nelson. Whether you arrive by air at Nelson Airport or by bus to the city centre, most New Zealand towns provide convenient access to this enchanting region.

From Nelson, a 20-minute scenic drive will transport you to the idyllic seaside village of Mapua.

What is Mapua known for?

While Mapua’s charm lies in its ambience, Mapua’s prominent landmark beckons exploration. The Mapua Wharf, adorned with colourful buildings and bustling with activity, is a gateway to the town’s maritime heritage. 

Stroll along the waterfront, browse the Mapua shops, breathe in the fresh sea air, and immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere. 

The Mapua Wharf is our favourite and one of the best things to do in Mapua New Zealand.

Mapua Wharf

Things to do in Mapua New Zealand

Mapua Ferry

Take a relaxing ferry ride from Mapua Wharf to Rabbit Island or explore the surrounding area by boat, offering a different perspective of the region’s stunning coastline.

Rabbit Island

Rabbit Island (Moturoa) is a beautiful coastal paradise and a short ferry ride from Mapua. 

Enjoy its sandy beaches, cycling trails, and picnic spots, making it a perfect destination for a relaxing day out.

Port Mapua Maritime Museum 

The Port Mapua Maritime Museum is housed in the original Māpua Wharf building, one of the country’s few remaining historic working wharves. 

The museum showcases the rich maritime history of Nelson and its coastline, offering interactive displays, photos, and videos on the area’s past, including early Maori involvement, trading vessels, cargo transportation, and sea misadventures. 

For history lovers, this is one of the coolest things to do in Mapua.   

Browse Mapua Wharf’s Galleries

There are numerous galleries at Mapua Wharf for those with an affinity for art.

Of all the Mapua Wharf shops, the galleries will delight you with their visual treats. Showcasing a variety of art, ranging from ceramics to stainless steel sculptures, furnishings, and antiques, the best part is if you love something, you can take it home. Most things on display are available for purchase.

Mapua gallery shop front

Scenic walks to Ruby Bay New Zealand

Besides strolling along the Mapua wharf, you can take a scenic hike along the coastline to Ruby Bay, taking in breathtaking vistas of Tasman Bay and its surrounding landscapes. 

Ruby Bay Vineyard

A guide on things to do in Mapua would be amiss without mentioning the region’s best vineyards.

Within a short drive from Mapua, Ruby Bay Vineyard offers wine tasting amidst a scenic vineyard setting. Sample some of the region’s finest wines and soak in the tranquil ambience. Besides the cellar door, the Mapua winery also offers luxury accommodations.

Kina Beach Vineyard

Discover the delights of Kina Beach Vineyard, a boutique winery situated a short distance from Mapua. 

You can enjoy wine tasting in a relaxed setting and take in the views of the vineyard and nearby coastline. Additionally, you can stay in their quaint seaside cottages.

Tasman Golf Club

Golf enthusiasts will treasure this the most of all the Mapua things to do. A visit to Tasman Golf Club includes a beautiful course overlooking the sea. 

Course fees are only $30 per day, but we think the best thing about Tasman Golf Club is the stunning views of Tasman Bay.

Waimea Estuary

Waimea Estuary’s claim to fame is that its the second largest estuary in New Zealand South Island.

You can experience the beauty of it and go birdwatching by walking or cycling along the Waimea Estuary. 

Moutere Inlet

See the Gateway to Ruby Coast Sculpture and admire the abundant birdlife.

During our short stop at this tidal lagoon, we observed countless birds of different varieties in the tranquil environment.

If you want to stay longer, there is a picnic table and information boards to learn about the area. 

Welcome sign at Moutere Inlet

The Tasman General Store

Visit the Tasman General Store, a charming store that roasts its own coffee on its premises. 

It’s a delightful range of home-baked goods, real fruit ice cream, local products and friendly service. 

Grossi Point Scenic Reserve

Grossi Point Scenic Reserve is a tranquil coastal reserve with walking trails offering spectacular views of Tasman Bay and the surrounding landscapes.

It’s an excellent spot for picnics, swimming and at sunset time!

Tasman’s Great Taste Trail

While you can explore a section of the Great Taste Trail from Mapua, consider venturing further along this scenic cycling trail. 

The popular trail takes you through the charming countryside, past vineyards, orchards, charming villages, and along the coast, offering a fantastic outdoor experience.

Additionally, other things to do in Mapua include visiting nearby Nelson Tasman attractions, such as the charming town of Motueka, The Abel Tasman National Park, and the cosmopolitan fun of Nelson City. Read Next – The Best Nelson Tasman Activities & Attractions.

Best Places to Eat

Mapua is a culinary haven that tantalizes the taste buds with its diverse gastronomic delights. The Mapua Wharf is the epicentre of the town’s vibrant dining scene, offering a plethora of eateries that showcase the region’s finest produce. Eating out at Mapua restaurants is one of the best things to do in Mapua New Zealand.

From freshly caught seafood to farm-to-table delicacies, there is something to suit every palate. Mapua’s eateries provide an inviting atmosphere where you can savour the region’s flavours.

The Apple Shed Kitchen & Bar

Set in a historic apple packing shed, The Apple Shed Kitchen serves up a delightful array of dishes made from locally sourced produce. 

Indulge for lunch or dinner, all within a charming ambience and exceptional service.

We also went there for their tasty breakfasts and were very impressed with their coffee.

The Smokehouse

If you’re a seafood lover, visit The Smokehouse, which offers a delectable selection of smoked fish, mussels, and other seafood delicacies. 

You can then take your seafood takeaways to one of the tables on the wharf’s edge and enjoy a beautiful view of the water while you eat.

We consider The Smokehouse not only one of the best things to do in Mapua New Zealand, but a Nelson Tasman region highlight. Sampling some of the region’s culinary delights at this seafood place is a South Island must-do!

Rimu Wine Bar

A favourite among wine enthusiasts, Rimu Wine Bar offers an extensive selection of local wines to accompany their delectable wood-fired pizzas. Enjoy the cozy atmosphere; they even welcome BYO seafood from The Smokehouse.

Jellyfish Restaurant & Bar

Located at the Mapua Wharf, Jellyfish Cafe & Bar offers a fantastic dining experience with its waterfront setting and delicious menu. 

Enjoy fresh seafood, tasty brunch options, and a wide range of beverages while soaking in the scenic views.

Mapua Ferry in the water

Special Events in Mapua New Zealand

Throughout the year, Mapua hosts various special events that add excitement to the town’s vibrant atmosphere and give locals and visitors alike things to do in Mapua New Zealand.

Mapua Village Market

This seasonal market is on every Sunday from October till May. The Mapua market has a diverse selection of local arts and crafts and food from the Tasman area. 

The best thing is that it’s held at Mapua Wharf, so the seaside atmosphere is a bonus.

Mapua Easter Fair

The Mapua Easter Fair, a beloved tradition, showcases local crafts, live music, and delectable food stalls, attracting visitors from afar. 

With over 220 stallholders, including arts, crafts, second hand and garden, you will likely find something to take home too.

Is Mapua New Zealand worth visiting?

Mapua, New Zealand, embodies the soul of this captivating country. As you have discovered in this story, there are many cool things to do in Mapua NZ, from its charming wharf to its culinary treasures and breathtaking natural surroundings. This coastal town offers an experience that lingers in the hearts of all who visit. 

Love Mapua NZ as much as we do?

Why not stay awhile at Mapua Leisure Park? It’s not only a great holiday park with many facilities, including an onsite restaurant, tennis courts, volleyball, a swimming pool and a sauna complex, but it has huts and campsites right on the water’s edge. Plus, they have their own private beach!

We hope you enjoyed ”Things To Do in Mapua New Zealand, Nelson’s Hidden Gem.” If you’re ready to travel around the South Island but need help deciding where to go next, here is a selection of our favourite stories to give you some great ideas.

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One Comment

  1. I must confess that I hadn’t even heard about Mapua! Such a lovely place! Nice article- very informative and great pictures. Thanks for sharing this.

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