A Guide to Motueka, New Zealand

For three months now, Emmett and I have called the little city of Motueka home. Located at the top of the South Island, it's a great location to be in -  the Tasman region is one of the sunniest parts of the whole country and is home to beautiful coastline and mountains. Motueka is about 20 minutes' drive from two national parks, Abel Tasman and Kahurangi. Though it's a really tiny town, it has quite a lot to do. See for yourself below!

Things to Do in Motueka

Visit Port Motueka

If you turn down Wharf Road from High Street and follow it until it becomes Everett Road, you'll find yourself at the Motueka Saltwater Baths. These two free public man-made pools rise and fall with the tide. The baths are also located in a nice little reserve full of walking trails and picnic tables. If you make it to the Baths, be sure to go a little further down the road for a peek at the shipwreck of the Janie Seddon.

Shop & Snack on High Street

High Street is Motueka's main thoroughfare. Beyond the standard New Zealand souvenir shops that are all over this country, Motueka is peppered with cute boutiques, galleries and op shops.

Spend Sunday Afternoon at the Motueka Market

Open every Sunday of the year from 8 AM to 1 PM, Motueka's market is a small but varied collection of vendors. You can find people selling everything from South African jerky to hubcap banjoes, from pear juice to pounamu necklaces. For the last month of work, going to the market with our work friends was a great way to relax on our one day off a week. Our favorite food-stall to visit has been that of local restaurant House of Li. They make Jian-bing (savory Chinese breakfast pancakes) right on the spot. So delicious. We have had one literally every single time we've visited the Sunday market. Other tasty bites are veggie dumplings & fried noodles from the noodle cart, veg & cheese sandwiches from Viva La Vaca Parrilla, and wood-fired pizzas from the pizza tent. 

Where to Eat in Motueka

  • Simply Indian // 130 High Street // Tasty, standard Indian fare. Definitely go at lunch for a more affordably-priced special.

  • Arcadia Vegetarian Cafe // 265 High Street // This is definitely my number one recommendation for a place to eat in Motueka. They are SUPER AFFORDABLE. And the meals are all really good-sized portions - not to mention delicious. And everything on the menu is vegetarian. Just order a special and a samosa.

  • Chokdee Thai // 109 High Street // A bit pricey but definitely worth the cost if you want to splurge on delectable Thai cuisine. I've heard from a few people who have actually been to Thailand that the food at Chokdee is the closest to authentic Thai that they've had outside of the country.

  • Mrs. Smith's Cafe // 524 Main Rd, Riwaka // Super friendly staff, really tasty cafe fare, cozy atmosphere. Definitely head into Mrs. Smith's on your way to Kaiteriteri, Golden Bay, or Abel Tasman. My favorite thing at Mrs. Smith's is the classic Kiwi hand pies. This cafe is one of the only places I've had a vegetarian-friendly pie - and one that actually tastes good at that! It's the vege satay, and I highly recommend you try it. For meat-eaters, I've heard great things about their sausage rolls.

Phad Rah Nah from Chokdee Thai in Motueka.

Phad Rah Nah from Chokdee Thai in Motueka.

Where to Stay in Motueka

  • Laughing Kiwi Backpackers // 310 High Street // On one rainy weekend after we'd first arrived here and desperately wanted a break from sleeping in our car, we spent two nights at Laughing Kiwi. The owners are super friendly, the place is clean and cozy, and it's got any amenity you could want plus free kayak rentals for guests who stay more than 2 nights.

  • White Elephant Backpackers // 55 Whakarewa Street // We never stayed here but many of our co-workers lodged at the White Elephant for weeks at a time, so I think it's safe to say that it's a nice place.

the lounge at Laughing Kiwi

the lounge at Laughing Kiwi

Bars, Wine, & Brews in Motueka

  • The Smoking Barrel // 105 High Street // We've been to the Smoking Barrel twice now with co-workers. Both times, we have had good service and tasty appetizers. I recommend vegetarian nachos, rustic fries, and then one of their excellent donuts. They even do donut sundaes if you're into that (and you should be).

  • Sprig & Fern // 191B High Street // I haven't been to Sprig & Fern, but they're a local brewery that also has a bar on Motueka's High Street. Some of our work buds said that it was worth a visit and I trust them.

  • Anchorage Wines // 202 Umukuri Road // While I haven't actually been to Anchorage Wines' tasting room, I have had their rosé at Rimu Wine Bar (see below) and it was quite good. I'd imagine their other wines are just as tasty.

  • Hop Federation Brewery // 483 Main Road, Riwaka // Just a five minute drive across the bridge north to Riwaka, Hop Federation Brewery has a tiny storefront with tasty brews available for free samplings. According to Emmett, the beer fan of the two of us: "If you like coffee, the coffee stout is more coffee than beer. You could drink it warm with breakfast." He ultimately bought a liter bottle of their Rakua IPA which was fruity and refreshing.

  • Golden Bear Brewing Company // 501 Aranui Road, Mapua // Located twenty minutes south in Mapua, Golden Bear has a wide variety of brews for free tasting. Emmett really enjoyed their "hoppy" Seismic IPA and I quite liked their blackcurrant cider.

  • Rimu Wine Bar // 404 Aranui Road, Mapua // Like Golden Bear, Rimu Wine Bar is located on the quaint Mapua Wharf. The wine bar is a great place to chill out with a bottle of wine, watching the sunset on the water, and listening to one of their live weekend shows.

Where to Go Next

  • Abel Tasman National Park // Beautiful views, coastal hikes, wildlife... This compact park is perfect for young adventurers, families, and everyone in between.

  • Kahurangi National Park // Endless green mountains stretching all the way to the sea. Perfect beech forest. Historic huts.

  • Golden Bay & Takaka // Funky artsy region full of little galleries, shops, & restaurants with gorgeous views abounding. Dramatic cliff-studded beaches, karst formations, and high peaks. And it's home to the northernmost point of the island.

Motueka New Zealand Guide // Things to do Motueka NZ