Māpua means a place of abundance and the offering is absolutely true to its namesake.
Speaking of namesake, the name of this stunning seaside village has been misspelled by leaving out the macron on the ‘a’ until a couple of years ago when the New Zealand Geographic Board, spurred on by a local asking questions, corrected the name to it’s rightful spelling. Without the macron, Mapua simply means tidal inundation or a kind of crying or sobbing and despite climate change concerns that doesn’t really seem a fitting name for such an incredible wee village.
One of my favourite things about Māpua is a fine Sunday afternoon in summer where all the best things this special seaside village has to offer come together – live music at Golden Bear, a stunning high tide through the estuary, families eating fish and chips on the lawn and kids jumping off the wharf to float down to the Leisure Park.
On a really good day you’ll even find local kids jumping off the wharf on their bikes with insulation pipes attached so they can float on the bikes down the estuary. For the more classy among us, a bike ride along the Great Taste Trail is the perfect day out. You can cross the estuary on the bike ferry from Moturoa Rabbit Island (1.5 hours ride from Nelson City) to Māpua.
The rest of the Great Taste Trail is fantastic too but it’s not hard to spend a day in Māpua. Lunch at the Apple Shed or Jellyfish is a must, followed by coffee and cake at Albertas or an ice cream from Hamish’s. If you’re spending the afternoon or the evening there (or you’re just really keen), then the Golden Bear Brewery has a stunning range of craft beers and Rimu Wine Bar has one of the more impressive selections of wines in the region.
I’m a sucker for a good Four Square and Māpua’s doesn’t disappoint. It’s everything I love about a Four Square – tight aisles, the smell of fresh bread and friendly locals. Next door is one of the region’s best bakeries, Māpua Village Bakery, who make an excellent pepper steak pie. I’m quite fond of the quirky setup at Java Coffee just down the street too.
There are art galleries and stores dotted around Māpua which are all worth checking out. You can enjoy a pint of local craft beer at the Sprig and Fern which is a favourite for the locals. If you’re keen to mix and mingle, their Wednesday night quiz night is well subscribed. They also have a seriously impressive menu for a pub and offer the kind of consistency that can be hard to come by in a small town (i.e. they open seven days a week!)
For the little ones, there is an excellent playground and skatepark right in central Māpua and if you visit around Easter time, then the Māpua Easter Fair would be one of the most well trafficked events in the region by far.
You can rent bikes from Kiwi Journeys on the Māpua Wharf which is a great way to get around but I’d recommend tackling the estuary by foot and heading around Grossi’s point for a quieter scene than what you’ll experience these days on the main wharf. On a good summer day with a gig at Golden Bear, the wharf is absolutely heaving with people. The seabreeze fills the air, the music is blaring, kids are running around, people are swimming, laughing and enjoying each other’s company. Oh and how could we forget the freshest and crispiest fish and chips in the region at the sought after Smokehouse right on the wharf (helpful hint – you can walk your crispies across the “road” and enjoy them with a glass of wine at Rimu).