At the Botanics Reserve, Saturday, 14 May 1870, the first ever rugby match was played. Soon gaining steam to travel to Wellington, Wanganui, Auckland and Taranaki.
Sun-kissed fruit, organic vegetables and succulent seafood offer a menu for any food lover’s paradise. Immersing yourself in the wine culture, twenty-five award-winning wineries scattered across the region.
Sip in the Ruby Bay Lodge
Ruby Bay Lodge and Vineyard on Pomana Road sits in the midst of rolling hill country.
Originally an apple orchard, they broadened their horizons to specialise in Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.
Visitors can usually enjoy a glass of wine with the owners, while scanning the selections of wine on offer. Indulge in their handmade chocolate truffles, and taste the smooth, bright wines they offer with delicious fresh Nelson produce.
Fling open your curtains in one of the two lodge suites or self-contained cottage, peering outside as the sun slowly begins to rise above the snow-capped mountains.
One of the earliest vineyards to be established; the only winery in the country to produce Würzer and Sylvia grape varieties.
Recline in the restaurant and sample the fresh seafood from the Tasman Bay, while watching your children play in the playground. Or taste one of their many wines in the outdoor courtyard, watching as the sun flashes over the vineyard.
Rummage through their little shop that sells wine-related gifts, locally made chocolate truffles and grape juice.
A fun and interesting day for the family. Stroll through the walk-through aviary that provides a natural environment for a variety of bird species. Watch as the kea, tui, kakariki flitter from branch to branch, the array of colour zooming by your face.
Try to spot the tuatara and gecko hiding in the dark, perhaps peeking out every now and then to scavenge for food.
Crouch down to watch the skink slither along the ground.
Monkeys slinging from the overhanging, some brave enough to come close to the bars.
Otters sliding in and out of the water. The farmyard animals lazing in the dirt, some cautiously approaching to see if you have any food for them.
Jetting Through the Waters
For the adrenaline junkie, you cannot by-pass the white water rapids in Nelson. Known for the best rafting and kayaking in New Zealand, eighteen rivers at your fingertips, a variety of adventures ready for you to explore.
Take the road out to Buller Gorge; it will definitely be worth the trip. The forty minute Goldrush Jet hurtles to the foot of the Ariki Falls, charging through the pink granite rocks of the gorge, zooming under the swing bridge. As you heart begins to go back to its normal rhythm, hear the calls of the native birds pierce the air.
But there’s more to do than just jetting through the waters. Meander through the many walks that cross over the gorge, through native bush and beyond. Suddenly happening upon the Swing Bridge. A hundred and ten metres in length, New Zealand’s longest swing bridge. Precariously cross over the bridge, gently swinging backwards and forwards over the river, feeling as if you may swing right off.
Travel back to the gold rush days, journeying along the river, squatting down with your tin plate, searching the river for gold. Perhaps spotting that golden trinket floating to the surface.
If you haven’t had enough to get your adrenaline going, come fly on the Comet line; a 160 metre flying fox zooming you high above the river. Go with a friend to make the ride even faster.
But if you really want to give your adrenaline a boost, the Supaman ride launches your body into the air at high speed in a harness, but… feeling the freedom of your flight without a seat. Your body being propelled through the air, your legs dangling underneath you.
Trekking across the Valley
Hop on a horse and trek across the thirty-nine hectare grazing block on the Blackbird Valley Horse treks. Meander past Boer goats, cattle peering up at you with blinking eyes, horses grazing in the fields. The array of Appaloosas, Standardbreds, Clyesdales and Thoroughbreds scatter the fields.
View Mount Arthur, the Western Ranges and Tasman Bay high on the hilltop.
Happy Valley Adventures
For the ultimate day out, you’ve got to visit Happy Valley. The variety of adventures to choose from makes it suitable for everyone.
Quad bike across farmland, into a thousand acre native forest, the under sixteen’s can ride on the back.
Pass by the giant Matai tree and explore native bush. Or zoom along tracks designed to get your heart pumping.
But if that wasn’t daring enough, you’ve got to try your hand at the world’s longest flying fox. Set high on forest hills; risk a glance below at the sea and river valleys. Soar like a bird for over three kilometres and up to 150 metres.
Listen to the quiet of the forest, native bird calls echoing around you, suddenly being propelled with speed over the ranges.
Fasten your seat belts as the ride takes you forward and backwards, abruptly freefalling 800 metres, and reaching speeds of 100 kph. You won’t be forgetting that ride in a hurry.
But if you want something a little more laid back, sit inside a luxury 10-seater driving around the land, strolling through native bush, peer upwards to the looming Matai tree, connecting with the ancient forests of New Zealand.
Or horse trek through rivers and along mountain trails.
Make the most of it when the weather is wet. Set inside the Argo – an amphibious vehicle splashing through the river, doing 360-degree spins, covering you in mud.
Explore the Cavernous Wonders
Te Anoroa Caves takes you on a journey to an ancient place deep within the earth. Crystal chandelier threads form a jagged light above you, frozen in time. Fossilised shellfish appear to have been swimming in the clear formations, suddenly being caught as the formations hardened.
Jagged peaks fill the subterranean cavern, beckoning you further inside its abode. The one-and-a-half hour underground adventure takes you on a memorable journey through 350 metres of ancient limestone formations.
Ngarua caves sits inside the hills of Takaka. Amble through Marble Mountain, the entire mountain covered in a spectacular array of colourful smooth marble. Gingerly step beyond the threshold to what appears to be a ballroom; the stalactites hanging like chandeliers in the Wedding Cathedral.
Silently wander along the radiant passageway, suddenly happening upon the large complete skeleton of the extinct Moa.
The unique array of colour from the usually plain limestone will remain still fascinating to as how this has been created.
But why you may ask, Chetwood Forest? Well, for all those Lord of the Rings fans you’ll know what I am talking about.
Imagine climbing over the miniature mountain ranges, following Strider through the rough country to escape the Black Rider. The hobbits wondering if they can trust this ranger as they disappear into the misty terrain.
Catch a helicopter to take the flight of Saruman’s black crows as they flew through the sky to look for the Fellowship.
End your day by sojourning to Harrington’s Brewery in Richmond to sample the stout that was served over the bar in the Prancing Pony.
Skydive over the Abel Tasman
Most locals and visitors alike will claim that if you are going to skydive somewhere, it’s got to be with Abel Tasman skydive. Giving you one of New Zealand’s highest skydives.
Climb to altitudes over mountainous ranges, peering down at golden beaches, shimmering turquoise waters beckoning.
At 16,500 feet a gust of air fills the craft, your heart begins to pump, your stomach does somersaults, and you wonder ‘what the earth was I thinking?’
Suddenly it is upon you, your body flies out over the side, plummeting down through the air, the South and North Island beneath you, your whole body seeming to float above you, feeling as if you are leaving everything behind.
The exhilaration and adrenaline pumps through you, propelling towards land in only seventy-five plus seconds, but seeming to last an eternity.
Finally landing, you ask “can I do it again?”
Kayaking along the Waters
Cable Bay Kayaks invites you on a journey filled with the awesome wonder of nature. The waters taking you past Nelson’s newest marine reserve, kayaking across clear coastal waters, hidden underneath a bounty of marine life.
Seal’s calls echoing across the rocks, the dolphins surfing the waters near you, sea birds flying above you.
Snorkel in the water to catch a glimpse of the colourful fish drifting in and out from the rocks.
Navigate through cave formations concaving over you, casting a dark shadow as you pass under it.
Swimming with the Seals
Abel Tasman Seal swim aqua taxi takes you on a forty-five minute cruise up to the Tonga Island Marine Reserve.
Submerge into the waters where you can have a one hour swim with the seals, perhaps even spot a baby seal, curious cuties that often approach humans to investigate.
Appreciate the peaceful ambience, as seals relax and interact with their natural watery environment. Their large brown eyes with their little button noses, and tiny pixie ears will melt your heart. Their bodies zigzagging in the water, baiting you to follow them to the unknown.
Nelson introduces you to what the South Island holds in store.
Ruby Bay Lodge and Vineyard, Accessed 26/08/11 , www.rubybayvineyard.co.nz
Seifried Estate, Accessed 26/08/11, www.seifried.co.nz
Bay Tours, “Winery Tours”, Accessed 26/08/11