Located on the banks of the Motueka River, Tapawera is a small town near the geographical heart of New Zealand. Its name translates as the “Edge of the Burning Forest”, with the town serving as the gateway to Kahurangi National Park. Tapawera is an off-the-beaten-track base for exploring the northern attractions of the South Island.
Things to do
Stretch your legs on one of the trails that wind through Kahurangi National Park, which is the second-largest of its kind in New Zealand. It encompasses rugged mountains and palm-fringed beaches, as well as some of the oldest rocks in the country. A highlight is trekking the 78-kilometre-long Heaphy Track through subtropical rainforest, lush river valleys and high tussock country.
Fancy a round of golf? Head to the Golden Downs Golf Club, a 5,752-metre-long course that’s famed for having the longest par 5 in New Zealand. It attracts players from near and far for its serenity and picturesque setting near the banks of the Motueka River.
If you’re interested in New Zealand’s industrial and transport history, head to the Higgins Heritage Park & Steam Museum on the outskirts of Wakefield. Its exhibits range from vintage hand tools to the largest portable steam engine in the country and a 1913 International tractor that’s believed to be the last of its kind in the world. Step inside the old garage that’s decorated with antique petrol pumps or coincide your visit with one of the regular steam demonstration days.
Tapawera is around 45 minutes’ drive from Nelson and Nelson Airport, which has flights to destinations across New Zealand. Having your own vehicle is the best way of getting around the area, although Tapawera is compact enough to explore on foot.