Top 5 ‘Must Do’ when on a Great Taste Trail cycle tour

Hopgoods & Co Rstaurant, Nelson

When you are on a multi-day cycle tour on Tasman’s Great Taste Trail, there is a temptation to cycle on the trail and aim for your destination. That is Ok if all you want to do is ride a bike and enjoy that experience and nothing else. If, on the other hand, if you want to cycle along the trail and explore the best of the region as you go, then a few gems are waiting to be found. Some cyclists arrive with the expectation that every doorway to a café, vineyard or gallery is sitting on the cycle path boundary. They are not all ‘on’ the trail, but if you explore a couple of hundred metres or up to 1Km off the trail there are over 200 places to stop at, eat, drink,  shop, view or experience.

If you explore the region using The Great Taste Trail, here are five places to visit if you want to go away with the best of the region in the memories of your trip.

1 Hopgood’s & Co Restaurant,  , central Nelson. Hopgood’s & Co stands as a culinary haven that captures the essence of fine dining and the spirit of this vibrant region. With its rich history, innovative menu, and commitment to quality, Hopgood’s has rightfully earned its place as a must-visit destination for food enthusiasts seeking an unforgettable dining experience. Hopgood’s Restaurant has a history dating back to the early 2000s, when it first opened its doors. It has become a firm favourite of locals and visitors. Founded by Kevin and Jane Hopgood, the restaurant has a sense of warmth and familiarity that comes from years of dedicated service. It has a bistro feel yet the food offerings are much more than’ bistro’ with exceptional menus that blend tradition with innovation. The culinary team, led by acclaimed chefs, takes pride in crafting dishes that are a testament to their passion for culinary excellence. It goes without saying that all dishes are thoughtfully curated to showcase the finest local ingredients.

It is located  is in the centre of Nelson, less than 1km from the cycle trail where many people choose to start and finish their tours. You could start or finish (or both) your cycle tour with a spectacular dining experience. Take note, it’s popularity means that it can get booked up well in advance, so if you are keen to experience this top class restaurant , book as soon as you can.

2 Abel Tasman National Park

The cycle trail brings you to Kaiteriteri, which acts as the gateway to this beautiful ( and smallest) National Park. Abel Tasman National Park beckons travellers with its pristine beauty and captivating landscapes. From golden beaches to lush forests, this natural haven offers an unforgettable experience that combines adventure, relaxation, and exploration. Here are four compelling facts that make Abel Tasman National Park a must-do experience:

 The Coastal Track: Abel Tasman boasts one of New Zealand’s Great Walks – the Abel Tasman Coastal Track. Spanning 60 kilometres (37 miles) of stunning coastal scenery, this track winds its way through lush native forests, unveils breathtaking vistas of turquoise waters, and leads to secluded bays and coves. Whether you embark on a multi-day hike or opt for shorter day walks, the coastal track guarantees an awe-inspiring journey. You can include a multi-day tour into the park before or after a cycle tour very easily

 Secluded Beaches and Pristine Waters: The park’s coastline is offers a collection of pristine beaches, each with its unique charm. The golden sands and clear azure waters of beaches like Totaranui and Anchorage beckon for a refreshing dip, kayaking adventure, or simply a relaxing sun-soaked day by the sea. Even when the park has lots of visitors, the beaches retain their tranquillity. Ther are plenty of places where you can feel like you have the beach all to yourself!

 A Haven for Marine Wildlife: Beneath the clear waters of Abel Tasman lies a thriving underwater world. Snorkelling or observing from a boat offers encounters with a diverse range of marine life, including fur seals, and playful dolphins. Exploring the marine reserves and observing these creatures in their natural habitat adds a layer of magic to the park’s appeal.

 Kayaking Paradise: For those seeking a unique perspective of Abel Tasman’s beauty, kayaking along the coastlines is an unparalleled adventure. Paddle through tranquil waters, glide past rocky outcrops, and discover hidden lagoons and caves that are inaccessible by foot. Kayaking offers an intimate connection with the park’s landscape and allows you to set your own pace of exploration. It is one of the most popular activities in the park and no previous experience of kayaking is needed. The sea kayaks are very stable and are mostly doubles, so it makes for easier adventures.

In conclusion, Abel Tasman National Park is an experience that encapsulates the essence of New Zealand’s natural beauty. With its enchanting coastal track, secluded beaches, thriving marine life, kayaking opportunities, the park offers an all-encompassing adventure for travellers of all interests. Whether you’re seeking a soul-soothing escape or an adrenaline-pumping exploration, Abel Tasman National Park is a must-do destination that promises memories that will last a lifetime.

3. The Nelson Classic Car Museum

This is about 50 metres away from the trail and a cycle path extends to it’s door. It is close to Nelson city and is a popular stop on the first or last day of a tour. It also has a really nice café ( The Little Engine) which you don’t have to go into the museum to use. However, the car museum is worth a visit. It is a treasure trove that appeals to more than just car enthusiasts. The museum experience extends beyond admiring the cars from a distance. Interactive displays and informative exhibits provide visitors with the opportunity to delve deeper into the mechanics and technology that power these remarkable machines. From hands-on activities to informative videos, the museum offers an engaging learning experience that appeals to visitors of all ages. The cars themselves range from  vintage cars, muscle cars, sports cars, or even quirky and rare models, the museum caters to every interest. From elegant Rolls-Royces that exude luxury to rugged off-road vehicles. As you wander through the exhibits, you’ll uncover the stories behind each car, gaining insight into the historical and cultural context in which they were created. Alternatively, you can stroll through the large exhibition halls and admire the vehicles as works of art or reminisce over some you may have owned and driven in the past! 

4 Upper Moutere

This is a bit further off the cycle trail than the others on this list, but the 6kms from Mapua will get you into the beautiful quiet countryside, with boutique vineyards, cellar doors where award-wining wines can be sampled from the world-class vineyards. There are several wineries with restaurants that provide ideal locations for a relaxing lunch. If craft beer is your preferred beverage, then the Moutere Inn is a destination not to be missed. Situated in the heart of the Upper Moutere village, it also offers very good pub food. The village and the surrounding countryside is also home to several artists’ galleries and studios. This area is nestled in rolling hills which provides picturesque cycle routes and gives you a real taste of sleepy rural New Zealand life. For a better feel of this gem see the article about the Moutere Artisans.

It is possible to do a quick ride through the Moutere, or at least visit the winery closest to Mapua, if you get to Mapua early enough ( lunchtime or early afternoon). That however would probably leave you feeling robbed of an experience you should really give a day to.

5 Wakefield Bakery

To bookend our five experiences, another culinary delight of a very different kind. It is found about 200m from the cycle trail in the village of Wakefield. It is one of the most popular and busiest bakeries in the area. A big hit with locals and cyclists ( and local cyclists). You will be amazed at the array of baked goods on offer. Everything is made onsite in the busy bakery kitchen. The traditional pies will not disappoint and filled rolls and sweet pastries of all sorts means every palate is catered for ( maybe not vegan though). The coffee is great too and no matter how busy it is, the orders are  ready very quickly. It’s a no-frills place, reliably open, welcoming and with seating in the sunshine, you can take a rest, enjoy your food and drinks while doing a spot of people watching, before you set out on your way along the cycle trail.

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