Richmond is located right at the southernmost tip of the Tasman Bay and is the nerve venture for farms, orchards and vineyards of the fertile Waimea Plains. The charming town knows how to delight visitors of every palate. Beaches, wineries, river valleys, and cycling trails are easily accessed from the urban settlement. Most impressive of all, the district’s three national parks – Nelson Lakes, Abel Tasman and Kahurangi – are all within an hour’s drive radius from the town. Here are 9 exciting things to do in and around Richmond.
1. Silvan Forest Mountain Bike Trails
Mountain bikers, get your helmets on because Silvan Forest has one of the most extensive networks of biking trails in the region. Silvan Forest is a privately owned property opened up by owners Rick and Sarah Griffin, who staunchly believe such ecological gems should be shared by all. Native bushes and plants sprout and intersperse across the land to produce a varied topography, allowing bikers to test their stamina and skills on different distances and gradients. Tracks are constantly upgraded and expanded to maintain the quality of the trails. This meticulosity is only to be expected for a gold standard mountain biking network, recognised by the International Mountain Bicycling Association.
Silvan Forest Mountain Bike Trails
Address: 216 Champion Rd, Richmond 7020, New Zealand
Website: Silvan Forest Mountain Bike Trails
2. Great Taste Trail
For a less strenuous, more satiating biking experience, sign up for the Great Taste Trail. The trail is run by The Gentle Cycling Company, which touts itself as one for the “lovers of food, wine, and beautiful landscapes.” Indeed, participants can choose to embark on single or multi-day rides, both with equipment provided and different itineraries to suit your schedule.
Cycle past rural scenery untouched by time, orchards bursting with seasonal produce, and vineyards strewed with grapes waiting to be harvested. An unmissable stop in beer country Nelson is, of course, the breweries, where you can witness how hop plants are transformed into the liquid gold. After a long day of gentle cycling through the countryside, there is nothing better than taking a deep, refreshing gulp of traditionally made beer. The Gentle Cycling Company is a mere 7 minute drive from Richmond and operates every September to April.
Great Taste Trail
Address: 411 Nayland Rd, Stoke, Nelson 7011, New Zealand
Website: Great Taste Trail
3. Seifried Estate Vineyard
One particular stop on the Great Taste Trail deserves special mention: the Seifried Estate Winery. The Seifrieds are a humble couple who laid roots for their maiden vineyard in 1973 and found themselves benefiting from the richness of the land. As the oldest commercial vineyard on the South Island, the Seifried’s estate has expanded to over 250 hectares (617 acres) since, and comprises of 8 vineyards, each cultivated to produce wine only of the finest quality.
Experience the passion and knowledge of the winemakers for yourself when you attend a wine-testing session at Seifried. From the creamy, full-bodied Chardonnay to the honeyed, Sweet Agnes’ Riesling, a concoction of Hermann Seifried’s own, you are unlikely to leave the cellar disappointed. Pair your selections with an exquisite lunch at the Petite Fleur Restaurant, located right in the beautiful grounds of the estate. Blue skies, green lawns, and heaven on your taste buds. This is what balmy, summer afternoons are for.
Seifried Estate Winery
Address: 184 Redwood Road Appleby, Richmond 7081, New Zealand
Website: Seifried Estate Winery
4. Mapua Wharf
20 min away from Richmond, Mapua Wharf is a coastal community with plenty of charm and character. Mapua, meaning abundance, was formerly an important coastal port that shipped apples from the prosperous Waimea Plains. Today, the old cool stores and warehouses have been converted into a lively mix of cafes, boutiques, galleries, and artisanal food stores, including a smokehouse and a brewery.
Indulge in mussels smoked in traditional brick kilns, accompanied by a pint of cold craft beer. Alternatively, have fish and chips by the wharf. Savor the freshness of the fillet, deep-fried to a luscious golden brown, as you watch the hypnotizing ebb and flow of the tide into the Waimea Estuary. For a better understanding of the wharf’s history, do drop by the maritime museum operated by the Mapua Boat Club, which keeps a detailed record of the community’s development. In the summer, you can even see people swimming and riding in the cool waters of the wharf!
Address: Mapua Wharf, Nelson, New Zealand (Along the Coastal Highway)
Website: Mapua Wharf
5. Rabbit Island
From Mapua Wharf, a convenient 10 min ferry ride takes you to Rabbit Island. Rabbit Island is tucked in a nook at the head of Tasman Bay, 7 km (4.3 miles) to the west of Richmond. The island was formed approximately 7,000 years ago, when several barrier islands drifted gradually towards each other to coalesce at the Waimea Estuary. 8 km (5 mi) of gentle, golden beach gives visitors plenty of room to get the sand between their toes. Picnic, BBQs, walking and swimming are all popular options on the island. Aside from the happy stream of seaside goers, the gleaming tidal waters are also a haven for sea birds. Don’t be surprised to see a white heron or royal spoonbill frolicking next to you.
Further inland, Conifer Park offers 2 km (1.2 mi) of gentle walking and biking tracks for those who want to explore more of the island. Bike rentals are available from Mapua Island. You can also hop over to the other two adjacent islands, Rough Island and Bird Island, which altogether form the Rabbit Island Recreational Reserve.
Address: Rabbit Island, Nelson 7081, New Zealand
Website: Rabbit Island
6. Tony Entwistle's Fly Fishing
Seasoned angler or fishing novice, the diverse waters in the backcountry of Richmond caters to any level of expertise. Motueka River is an encouraging place to start for those just getting their feet wet. Teeming with brown trouts that can be spotted through its crystal clear water, Motueka is lined with stony beds for easy wading. Another fishing haven is the Buller River, which roars in from the Tasman Sea to make for a formidable fishing experience at those upper reaches. Above the larger tributaries, the water abates into a gentler flow that is more manageable for the less-seasoned anglers. The picturesque backdrop of the Buller further confirms why fly-fishers are partial to this home river.
For a fuss-free time and guarantee of a trout haul, team up with an experienced local guide like Tony, who is happy to work out an itinerary according to your expectations. The adventurous anglers can even request for a heli-flyout trip to the more secluded locations, where stunning scenery and bountiful fish await.
Tony Entwistle's Fly Fishing
Address: 5 Mason Place, Richmond 7020, Nelson, New Zealand
Website: Tony Entwistle’s Fly Fishing
7. Abel Tasman Skydiving
There is a good reason why skydiving is on many of our buckets lists. Hurtling through the air at terminal velocity, the roar of the wind amplified by the adrenaline pumping through your veins, and then silence. All other thoughts in your mind cease and you float dream-like to the ground. Skydiving is the closet thing to flying we humans can experience.
Incredible as New Zealand is on foot, nothing truly compares to having that bird’s eye view of the land. The grandeur of the Abel Tasman region, with its forests, coasts, and cliffs, diminishes to the width of your vision. On clear days, you can even get a peek of both North and South Island! Skydive Abel Tasman offers tandem skydiving with a team of professional jump staff. While it may be a half-hour drive out from Richmond, the journey is definitely worth the unparalleled drop zone.
Abel Tasman Skydiving
Address: Hangar One, 16 College Street Motueka Airport, Motueka, New Zealand
Website: Abel Tasman Skydiving
8. Vortex Wind Karting
Blokarting, or wind karting, is another thrilling way to feel the winds on your back without having to ascend 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) into the air. For those unfamiliar, blokarting involves sailing in special-built yachts for land. At Vortex Wind Karting, drivers are taught how to catch the fickle winds and manoeuvre the vehicles for maximum speed. The owner, Murray Shaw, is one of 20 members of the Top of the South Blokart Club, which includes former sailors who can’t quite bear to roll up their sails.
Make no mistake, blokarts are built for speed. The fastest record is clocked at over 120 km/h (75 mi/h), and even rookies can easily reach 75 km/h (47 mi/h) along the straighter sections of the racetrack.
Vortex Wind Karting
Address: Richmond Park, 384 Lower Queen Street, Richmond
Website: Vortex Wind Karting
9. Pro Karts & Pro Combat Laser Tag
If you are looking for a full day of action-packed fun, Pro Karts & Pro Combat Laser Tag is an amusement complex located just behind Richmond. Release your need for speed on the go-karting tracks, or challenge your friends to an exhilarating race to the white line. Bounce your way through the outdoor Trampoline Park and let each jump take you higher and closer to the open sky. At the Laser Tag Arena, round up your troops to engage in combat missions to the death, or at least, till it is time for lunch. With the range of affordable activities to choose from at Pro Karts & Pro Combat Laser Tag, your only problem would be prying the kids away when it is time to go home.
Pro Karts & Pro Combat Laser Tag
Address: Houncell Circle, Tahunanui, Nelson 7011, New Zealand
Website: Pro Karts & Pro Combat Laser Tag
A home base for your adventures
The majesty of Richmond comes on full display in the warmer months of September to April. Sun rays beam down to warm the sandy beaches and illuminate the lakes and oceans in a whole gamut of blue. Extended daylight hours gives you plenty of time to explore the national parks, and cycle through the vineyards and farmlands that are the pride and joy of the region. With its ideal location at the tip of the South Island, the town of Richmond truly is the cherry on top of the cake.
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