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Is the Maitai Valley Nelson Tasman’s new summer hotspot?

Is the Maitai Valley Nelson Tasman’s new summer hotspot? This Nelsonian certainly thinks so. And before you screw your nose up at the thought of forgoing gems such as Golden Bay, the Abel Tasman, Kaiteriteri beach – let me tell you a couple of reasons why I think you’ll want to stick around town this year.

I’ve spent the latter part of this week planning my summer holiday break – and by planning I mean daydreaming about the parts of our region that I am going to explore over the Christmas and New Year break.

The mandatory must-see and dos on the daily include swimming, reading, getting active – followed by eating loads of local fruit, produce and artisan products (all the Thorvald cheese, all the Penati crackers) and generally soaking up the absolutely stellar scene that is Nelson Tasman, high summer.

My usual go-tos whether it’s me and some local friends or whanau looking to explore – or if I am entertaining guests from other parts of NZ or the world, are to pack up the car with picnic baskets, towels, beachy type activities, walking shoes and hit the road to the golden sands of the bay. Fit in a walk, a kayak, a swim, a gorgeous pint (hey Golden Bear – I’ll see you soon!) a spot of camping, night fishing at Split Apple – the list goes on. But I’ve been thinking of going a little left-field this summer and you know what? I am glad I did my research instead of sticking to the status quo.

A little unchartered territory has caught my eye – it’s safe to say, I’ve got a massive summer lovin crush on the Maitai.

My last encounter with Nelson’s Maitai Valley was sadly not a positive one. It’s a story for a different day, but it involved a women’s Tri and photo evidence that haunts me to this day.

I typically associate this westward flowing awa with distant childhood memories and aside from the fitness fail, haven’t actually ventured up since.

I rediscovered it quite by accident. Nelson’s best-kept summer secret and despite what I am sure will be disappointing news to the local residents there, cannot keep my mouth shut about it.

Here’s 10 reasons to choose the Maitai over Golden Bay this summer. If you know of any extras – hit me up!

10. You can SUP along the river. A business called Moana Paddle Nelson offers stand up panddleboarding from the Port end of town right up through the heart of the city, stopping for coffee along the way at River Kitchen. A unique experience if you’re looking to try SUPing, and keen to see the city from a different angle.

9. Swimming holes aplenty! There are some gorgeous spots to soak up the sun and cool off over summer. My favourite is fresh, deep and features a rope swing, plus is in walking distance to a (very clean) loo for ease of getting changed.

8. Go golfing – Waahi Taakaro golf club is a hop skip and a jump up the road from the best swimming holes. So if you want to spend a day out on the green or have family members (cough* Dads) you can easily spend the day here.

7. Mountain biking. You can access some amazing trails accessible from the Maitai Valley – Codgers , Fringed Hill to name a few. See the Nelson Mountain Bike Club website for permit and access details.

6. Trail walking. Try out the Maitai Valley walk – it’s a good country walk with plenty of variety in terrain – recommend you wear sturdy footwear, but what a way to explore the valley. The trail is accessible past the motor camp at Pipeline Bridge. The walk takes around an hour.

5. Urban cycling route – Maitai Walkway – if mountain biking isn’t your thing but you still ant to head out on two wheels, try the 7km picturesque trail up the left bank of the Maitai River. Takes around 30-60 minutes to complete.

4. You can hire e-bikes! A snazzy local business called Brews & Bikes has just set up shop at the Maitai Cricket ground on the weekends. From here you can hire e-bikes to take out to explore or go on a guided tour.

  • Real fruit ice-cream and real coffee. This particular detail is a crucial missing piece to the Maitai Valley puzzle that will allow visitors to stay and play a while, without missing out on a much needed cool off or caffeine hit. Brews & Bikes clearly know they are onto a good thing. Some early sampling tells me they source their berries from Connings Food Market – locals supporting locals always gets a big tick from me.

2. There’s probably going to be a gondola. This project looks set to go ahead, with a proposed path from the Maitai Valley up Fringed Hill, travelling 1.3km and ending up 630 metres above sea level. A broader focus on turning this into a more widely appealing tourist attraction means you don’t have to be an adrenaline junkie keen on a mountain bike to enjoy it – there will be an interactive tuatara experience, as well as other attractions to get amongst. Although it won’t be there this summer, it’s better to get in early now, so you can say you were there before it arrived.

1. Locals called ‘Friends of the Maitai’ are actively monitoring the Maitai River to protect and help maintain its health for the benefit of the community. They are using a continuous monitoring probe to keep continuous record of river health and water quality, allowing the community to monitor impact and note changes  Passion for the place you live that turns into real action is reason enough to visit and perhaps donate a little time or money to their efforts.

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