If you’ve grown up in New Zealand then you’ve probably heard that the Nelson / Tasman / Golden Bay area is full of amazing beaches. Some of the best beaches in New Zealand in fact. That’s definitely true, but what about the beaches in Motueka itself? Are they any good, or should you just head to Abel Tasman National Park?
Beaches in Motueka
Motueka is only 12 km from Kaiteriteri, which is renowned for its pristine beaches. A little past that is Abel Tasman National Park, which is full of amazing beaches that could almost pass as being on a tropical island halfway across the world. Motueka also has beaches, but they don’t quite meet those high standards. We explored some of the beach areas in Motueka and found that it’s pretty much one stretch of beach with lots of different access points.
The beach itself is alright. Good for a stroll, but you’d never mistaken it for a tropical paradise. It’s pretty typical of a lot of coastline in New Zealand – a bit rough and grey and not somewhere you’d want to swim, but scenic enough and perfect for long walks.
We parked up at a few different places to find the best beaches in Motueka – I reckon the parts near the Motueka Salt Baths and near the Jane Seddon Shipwreck are some of the best. There’s also a sandbar near there which is a good place for a walk.
The Ruby Coast
Just south of Motueka you’ll find a detour for the Ruby Coast. It says it’s a scenic drive but we weren’t that impressed! The beaches on the Ruby Coast are stony and a bit rough – nice enough but not what I’d describe as “good beaches”.
While the beaches in Motueka might be a little disappointing, you’re only a very short drive (15 minutes) from Kaiteriteri, one of the most popular beach towns in New Zealand. It fills up big time over the summer holidays, but it’s not too busy the rest of the year.
The main beach is really nice, and there are also some walks you can do to other beaches nearby. A short drive from downtown Kaiteriteri takes you to Split Apple Rock Beach – if you want to see a beach that looks a lot like what you’ll see in Abel Tasman National Park this is a good option.
Abel Tasman National Park
If you find yourself searching for beaches in Motueka you’ll probably want to consider a trip into Abel Tasman National Park. It really is home to some of the best beaches in New Zealand (some areas of Northland could give it a run for its money though) and it’s quite easy to get to.
You can book boat tours or drive in from the Golden Bay side, or walk the whole Abel Tasman Coastal Track (or parts of it).
Rabbit Island is roughly halfway between Nelson and Motueka and is a very popular beach with locals. It’s huge and is great for swimming and walking. It doesn’t quite have the tropical looks of the beaches in Abel Tasman but it’s a solid option if you’re travelling to Motueka and want some beach time.
So, are there any good beaches in Motueka? Not really — but there are some amazing ones very nearby, which is good enough for me.
Are you planning a trip to the top of the South Island? Check out our post about the best things to do in Nelson, including hikes, day trips and much more.
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