Split Apple Rock, Kaiteriteri, Tasman. © Dave Buckton

Loved by the locals: Tasman


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1. The Natural Flames Experience, Murchison

This is a remarkable find. Billed as the only place in the world where flames burn eternally in the bush, the tour includes a drive up the Blackwater Valley to a private farm, where you get out of the 4WD and walk for an hour through gorgeous native forest, learning about the ecosystem around you. Deep in the bush, you crest a hill, round a corner, and suddenly happen upon the flames – a perpetual fire in a hollow, fed by natural gas leaking from the ground. Your host slings down a hot plate, boils tea and cooks pancakes drizzled with local beechdew honey, and after warming your hands and backside you walk back happy. Don’t miss it. 

2. Lake Rotoiti, St Arnaud

Framed by the bluish haze of native bush-clad mountains, the old wooden jetty jutting out into Lake Rotoiti is one of the iconic images of Tasman.

The lake is surrounded by beech forest that drops a pleasing carpet to scuff through on a 23-kilometre walk around the lake, or for the more adventurous, up into the surrounding peaks.

With Rainbow Ski Field nearby and a small but thriving community, St Arnaud and its jewel are worth the beautiful drive off the state highway. If you can, time your visit to catch the New Zealand Antique and Classic Boat Show in late summer, where the water buzzes with gorgeous restored wooden vessels and there are plenty of sideshows for landlubbers.

3. Jester House Café, Tasman

A few years ago they carved a new road from Nelson to Motueka, cutting off Ruby Bay and relieving summer congestion. That was fine with the locals, who now have a peaceful corner of Tasman and can host much more relaxed travellers. Jester House is the best incarnation of this. Constantly voted among the best cafés in the region, it is brilliant for children, with lots of space outside and quirky art and garden installations. As well as tame eels and a great menu, you can also take a night and stay in The Boot, a fairytale cottage experience you’re not likely to repeat anywhere else.  

4. Hidden gems in Appleby

Locals flock to the berry fields of Appleby during summer, picking their own boysenberries and strawberries, buying fresh garden produce and eating real fruit ice-creams, the region’s speciality.

Picking a ripe, sun-warmed berry off the vine – one for the bucket, one for the mouth – is surely one of life’s deepest pleasures.

Outside picking season, you can buy frozen berries or choose from a bounty of berry products from the on-site shop at Tasman Bay Berries. Once your container or your stomach is full, meander along this stretch of highway to find a stack of things to do, including galleries, vineyards, a maze, gift shops, beer tasting, cafés, and the turnoff to Rabbit Island, a stunning long beach with forest trails and lots of space to kick a ball or play on the sand.

5. The Park Café and The Fat Tui, Mārahau

After a walk in the Abel Tasman, the Park Café is a gorgeous stop off at the very exit (or entrance) of the track, for coffee, meals, and drinks. They frequently have live music, or you can just gaze across the estuary and into the park, congratulating yourself on your intrepid adventure. You deserve a couple more beers – just spend the rest of the afternoon in the sun with a wood-fired pizza to soak it up, or walk to The Fat Tui caravan across the road for a giant, utterly delicious burger and a huge home-made ice-cream cookie sandwich to finish it off.

A post shared by MINNA WESTER (@staycoconuts) on Feb 3, 2018 at 11:04pm PST

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