Best spots for cooling off

Lee Valley

There are many beautiful clear water swimming spots along the Lee River with access from either the Lee Valley Road or Mead Road. Two of the larger spots which include reserves are the Firestones Reserve and Mead Reserve. At these reserves, the amenities include toilets, picnic and BBQ facilities.

Distance from Richmond: 14km or 13 mins by car. Dogs are only permitted on a lead in reserves.

Aniseed Valley

The Roding River runs through the Aniseed Valley. Two reserves on the river to check out are White Gates Reserve and Twin Bridges which can both be found along the Aniseed Valley Road. Toilets and BBQ facilities.

Distance from Richmond: 11km or 14 minutes by car. Dogs are permitted on leads only.

Lake Rotoiti

Lake Rotoiti, which is in an alpine area, is somewhat cooler but a huge swimming hole surrounded by native forest. It has the options to do long or shorts walks around its surrounds as well as canoeing and boating. Amenities include a visitor’s centre, toilets, picnic, BBQ area and water taxi service.

Distance from Richmond: 76km or 64 minutes by car. No dogs.

Rabbit Island (Moturoa)

Rabbit Island is the largest picnic area in the district fronting a small-waves, safe sandy beach which runs eight kilometres along the Waimea Estuary.  There’re also plenty of grassy play areas behind the beach which are shaded by tall pines. There are also great biking tracks within the forest which are flat and family-friendly for leisurely riders. Amenities include toilets, picnic, and BBQ facilities. No fresh water available. Check gates closing time on entry to the island as it shuts overnight.

Distance from Richmond: 14km or 15 minutes by car. Dogs are not permitted.

Best walking tracks

Spooners Tunnel

This is a flat, easy 1.4 km track located on Tasman’s Great Taste Trail, 16.3 km south of Wakefield on SH6. There is no lighting so take a torch, and it can be chilly, so an extra layer of clothing is advisable.

Distance from Richmond: 15 km, 20 minutes by car.

Rabbit Island 

Park as close as you can to the Mapua end. This is 9 km return trip but can be broken half-way with a ferry ride to the Mapua Wharf for a coffee and something to eat.

Distance from Richmond: 14 km or 15 minutes by car.

Whispering Falls Walk

From Nelson head south on the SH6. In Hope turn left into Aniseed Valley Rd and follow it for the next 11.5 km until you reach a car park (on your right). The car park has toilets, picnic tables and a swimming hole. The walk is around 2 ¼ hours return. The start of this track is shared by the Hackett Hut walk which is 4 hours return. The hut is basic and doesn’t require booking.

Distance from Richmond: 16 km, 25 minutes by car

Lake Rotoiti Loop

This is a 23 km track that includes a river crossing. The walk can be broken with a stay at either Cold Water Hut (12 bunks) or Lakehead Hut (28 bunks). Neither hut requires booking. There is a side trip to Whiskey Falls that can also be done as a day walk from the Cold Water Hut car park on Mount Robert Road.

Distance from Richmond: 75 km or 1 ¼ hours by car.

Mount Robert Circuit

From St Arnaud, follow SH63 west for 2 km, then turn into Mount Robert Road. Follow this for 4.9 km to the car park at the end. This is considered an advanced track. The trip can be split into two days with a stay halfway at Bushline Hut – bookings are required.

Distance from Richmond: 79 km or 1 ½ hours by car.

Best bike trails

The Great Taste Trail

Holding the title as one of New Zealand’s Great Rides, this scenic trail can be done as a whole or broken down into smaller sections. Whichever you choose, your path will take you to vineyards, breweries, orchards, art galleries and boutique shops. A great family-friendly section of the track is at Rabbit Island with a hop over to Mapua wharf on the ferry for fish and chips!

Join at Champion Road, Richmond.

Silvan Forest Mountain Bike Park

With 170 hectares of private forest, this park is one of the region’s favourite riding areas, with 24-hour, free public access. A core network of fun, safe trails, with well- graded single track climbing trails forming a backbone from the bottom of the property to the top ridge.

Join at Champion Road, Richmond.

Richmond Hills

This trail network is a great place to ride if you like fun, flowing grade 3+ trails. Easily accessed from Easby Park, there is a grade 3 climbing track that takes you up to the main skid site. The views out towards the Tasman sea are picture-perfect.

Join at Easby Park, Richmond.

Wairoa Gorge Mountain Bike Park

Just behind Brightwater in the Wairoa Valley, the gorge has over 70km of hand-built mountain bike trails that run through lush native forest from a maximum elevation of 1200m. This one isn’t free and you need to be a member of the Nelson Mountain Bike Club (you can join on the day), but if you have time and energy, it’s so worth it.

Distance from Richmond: 27km, 42 minutes by car.

For more information on maps, trails and bikes, visit

Spread the love.