Today I had New Zealand smoked salmon for lunch – salmon caught in the turquoise waters of Tasman Bay near Nelson on the South Island, and locally smoked using unique NZ timber! To be clear – I was at home – Covid locked in within the borders of Western Australia – more than 5000 kilometres from NZ. However, I am very familiar with this area of NZ, having visited in pre Covid times. I’ve enjoyed its magnificent and memorable smoked salmon during my visits – so I was delighted when I saw it in my Australian supermarket.
It’s magical how food can evoke memories, transporting you away from your Covid situation to favourite places you’ve travelled to in the past. As I savoured the smoked salmon at home, I was transported instantly to a wharf at Mapua, a sleepy seaside settlement in a stunning location about half an hour’s drive from Nelson. And I was sitting outside the town’s renowned smokehouse again, enjoying their smoked products.
The smokehouse at Mapua is definitely one of my all time favourite places. A magnet that draws me to it when I arrive in Maputo. I am, after-all, a traveller and a foodie!
I can’t be sure if the smoked salmon I had for lunch at home was actually from the smokehouse, but it was definitely first class fare from the Nelson/Mapua region, and the salmon would have swum gill to gill with the smokehouse salmon in the pristine sea by the town.
Mapua is around 15 minutes drive from NZ’s famous Abel Tasman National Park. You’ll find it on the Waimea Inlet – the largest estuary in New Zealand’s south Island. This area is supposed to be the sunniest place in New Zealand – handy to know when planning a visit to the ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’.
Besides the smokehouse, Mapua has an abundance of boutique shops, cafes, restaurants, wine bars and craft breweries. And scenery – words fail me! Simply put – it’s outstanding. Mapua serves up mountains, water, beaches and bush (forest). A winner every time! And fabulous food from the smokehouse, of course – a variety of hand smoked fish, pate, pies and chowder.
I’ve been fortunate enough to visit three times and have always lucked in on good weather! On each occasion I’ve gone for the impromptu picnic lunch, buying smoked salmon and salmon pate from the smokehouse to marry with fresh crusty bread rolls from a nearby bakery. We always travel with a knife and a small cutting board for such occasions!
I did once also lunch on the local fish and chips, which were top notch, taking my purchases from the Smokehouse back to my accomodation for my evening meal. With this kind of scenery, outdoor dining is the go!
From Mapua, you can also catch the Mapua ferry that takes passengers to nearby Rabbit Island with its 13 kilometre tidal beach. It’s a great viewing spot for sea birds including white heron and royal spoonbills. Picnic tables and barbecues are available. Rabbit Island also is a good place for cycling, and you can take your bicycle on the ferry with you.
By road, move further towards the Abel Tasman National Park and you’ll come to Motueka. This is a good place to overnight before tackling the famous Abel Tasman track – a trek that can take three to five days to complete. You must book huts and campsites on the track well ahead of your visit. Parts of the track are difficult, so do your research and ensure you are well equipped. I’d love to show you photos of the track, but sadly I’ve only walked about a kilometre on it.
Motueka is another vibrant community with wonderful beaches, a good cafe culture and quality local artisans and crafts.
It’s also a place where you will see plenty of tractors pulling boats and getting them in and out of the water at low tide! Taxis included!
I love the posts where you can rest your bicycles here – if it’s been a tough ride, there’s a smile at the end of it!
Sadly, one of Marahau’s ‘tastiest’ attractions – the Fat Tui burger – served from a little kitchen caravan – has left town since I visited. I count myself lucky to have had a few of their wonderful unique burgers. Any place that’s popular with burgers called ‘The Cow Pat’ or ‘The Sparrow’s Fart’ must be a winner! The good news is that the Fat Tui has moved to nearby Nelson and morphed into a ‘proper’ cafe. I’ll be checking out the new location whenever I can get back to NZ!
Lots of homegrown produce too.
If you happen to be visiting this region in cherry harvest time in early summer, be prepared for the biggest and most juicy cherries you’ll ever likely to encounter. NZ for me isn’t just about lamb and wine – its cherries are the best I’ve tasted anywhere. They are so good you wouldn’t go wrong in timing your visit just to taste the cherries!
Further towards the National Park is another little community gem – Kaiteriteri. Sounds a bit greek, doesn’t it. Puts you in a good mood just hearing it’s lovely name. Actually it’s a Maori word. I adore Greece, but Kaiteriteri NZ beats anything I’ve seen there as far as beaches and seaside views.
This region out from Nelson to the Abel Tasman National Park is popular as a hot holiday area with both locals and tourists, particularly in summer. It is a place which offers everything – great beaches and swimming, lovely communities, water sports, hiking, cycling and great local food. So if you plan to stay there – and I definitely recommend you do – then book well ahead.
Will I return? Absolutely! Meanwhile, I hope the Kiwis keep sending the region’s smoked salmon to my supermarket in OZ! By the way, did I mention the area’s top class wines? Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc. You’ll definitely need to put this area of NZ on your bucket list and explore for your self.
DID YOU READ MY LAST TWO FEBRUARY STORIES?
‘ARMCHAIR OLYMPICS’ posted February 8 – ‘JAPANESE ONLINE FREE FILMS’ posted February 17
**** NEXT UP on my blog will be a story on BROOME – the magical outback frontier town in Western Australia’s rugged Kimberley region. It’s unlike any place you’ve probably ever visited. Think dirt and rocks the colour of a blazing red sunset, wild crocodiles, whales, fresh caught barramundi, endless white sandy beaches, mangroves, a multi cultural community, pearl divers, Japanese and Chinese cemeteries, outstanding dawns. I touched on Broome in my very first blog story about one of my road trips last year (see PERTH TO BROOME AND BACK – February 8). But you’ll get a full taste of this amazing place in the story I’m now working on. Worth the wait, I think. HOPE TO HAVE IT ON THE BLOG BY LATE THIS MONTH.
NOTE: As usual, all the photos you see in this blog story have been taken by my camera. Find more of my photos at https://www.instagram.com/aussieboomer1/