Food Hubs on the Great Taste Trail

Venue at Riverhaven

There are some locations where there is a cluster of places that offer a range of food and drinks. Apart from obvious clusters in Nelson or Richmond towns, there are some other places that are worth a mention.
Starting with the coastal section between Richmond and Mapua, is Old Factory Corner. This is a good example of somewhere that offers a great range of tastes of the area but is not directly on the actual Great Taste Trail. It is a short distance off the trail and has local paths that bring you to it. You do not have to approach it from a state highway! At this hub you have options to rest up and have food and drinks at either The Great Escape Café or Connings café. This café also has a good range of counter food that could be picnic food and it sits in the Connings fruit, veg and local produce shop, so plenty of picnic food options. Picnic options are plentiful if you would like some cheeses and deli items to pack and take with you from The Junction, a cheese shop at the hub. Of course, being surrounded by berry fields, real-fruit ice-creams are available seasonally at this hub too. If you have collected picnic food, there are several picnic spots as you follow the cycle trail along the Estuarine coastline and onto Rabbit Island with its long sandy beach.
The next food hub and one of the best along the trail, is Mapua. Mapua wharf has several restaurants, offering a range of fare. Two of these restaurants on Mapua wharf offering coffees, lunch or dinner are The Jellyfish and The Apple Shed. The Mapua Smokehouse offers traditional takeaway fish & chips as well as smoked fish deli products. Eating fish and chips on Mapua wharf is popular with locals and visitors. The Rimu wine bar also allows these take-aways to be eaten in their outdoor areas if you purchase a beer or wine from there. The wine bar also sells pizzas and local produce platters. This is one venue that also has live music at the weekends. The other location for live music, food, and craft beer, is the Golden Bear brewery. This is a bigger venue than the wine bar and it plays host to lots of live musical events throughout the year. It is very popular and has good-sized outdoor and indoor seating areas. If you are looking for delicious local ice-cream, a coffee or some food, then Hamish’s on the wharf is a good option, with one of the biggest selections of ice-cream and real-fruit ice-cream flavours in the region. Next door is Alberta’s café, which is the first to open it’s doors in the morning at 7.30, so is very popular for breakfasts, morning coffees and a treat or some lunch. It serves real-fruit ice-creams too.
Moving North along the trail, on the outskirts of Motueka, is Toad Hall and Townshend Brewery. This is worthy of being called a food hub in it’s own right as the Toad Hall menu is extensive and caters for every dietary requirement you could think of. The brewery supplies a large range of its award wining craft beers to the café and you can also purchase riggers of Townshend beer to takeaway. Toad Hall also have their own organic garden and they sell fruit and vegetables as well as locally sourced food and beverages, many of which are also organic. If you didn’t want to stop off to eat there, it is also a great option as somewhere to call in for picnic food to take on the bike and enjoy at a viewpoint along the trail. If you leave the trail and go into the centre of Motueka, there are a range of cafes and restaurants, too numerous to mention here.
Another small cluster of tastes can be found at Riwaka. Mrs Smith café sits just on the corner beside the trail and is open until mid-afternoon. However just 100 metres away from the trail is a cluster of 3 businesses that provide a range of tastes. Hop Federation craft brewery has a tasting room, where you can try before you buy. Unfortunately, you can only purchase beer to takeaway as they don’t have a licence for onsite consumption. This little hub can be a hive of activity in the summer months as Thomas Bro ice-cream shop opens. It sits on the edge of the orchard that provides some of the fruit (cherries in particular) that goes into the real-fruit ice-creams or the fruit and veg that are sold in the shop. Next door to this is the funky Little Ginger café which is open until early afternoon, serving great coffee, award-wining pies and baked goods made onsite.
When the Great Taste Trail takes you into the Motueka valley you leave the coastal feel of the trail and move through lush green valley, very rural in nature. Some honesty stalls can be found along the trail route, but there are no coffee or food options after Riwaka until you get to the food oasis of River Haven. This is a very welcome addition to the cycle trail route as it provides a great place to stop for coffee and yummy baked goods if you are passing from 8am to mid-afternoon. Other treats like local soft-drinks and ice-creams are also available at this tranquil location. If you are on an e-bike, it’s also a good place for you to recharge while your bike does too, as they have power points you can plug your charger into. There is also the River Haven Venue, a restaurant at the same location which serves lunches and evening meals. As a cyclist you probably won’t be there in the evening, but you could stop off for a pleasant lunch in a vineyard (currently open Thursday- Monday 11.30 -4 and Thursday – Saturday 5.30-8)
There are many places dotted along The Great Taste Trail, where you can stop for something to eat or drink. This article has picked out the places that have some interesting options but it hasn’t included other places like Wakefield that has a couple of cafes, or The Upper Moutere area, near Mapua that has a number of places to sample local produce and beverages. Some places may be just off the trail and not all have signage to get you there. The cycle trail Trust is working on this and adding some more signage to places you can’t see from the trail path. There are quite a large number in places so they are not all marked if they are within 1km of the trail. If you are exploring the area, without the help of a local cycle tour operator, it would be well worth your while doing some planning before you set off, so that tastes that are not in sight of the trail don’t get missed.

The Junction Shop, artisan cheeses and deli
The Junction Shop at Old Factory Corner, a food hub near The Great Taste Trail
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