Upper South Island and the West Coast: Places to Explore

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Around Nelson

Though Nelson's a bustling city, it retains a rural quality. With Tasman Bay before it and the foothills of the Bryant and Richmond ranges behind, open countryside, national parks, and vineyards are within easy reach. State Highway 6 south from the city winds through the outlying suburb of Stoke and through to Richmond, a good-size neighboring town. The commercial and civic center of the Tasman District, Richmond, has a good library and a modest shopping mall—the only one in the top half of the South Island.

Just south of Richmond, State Highway 60 branches west off State Highway 6, heading toward Mapua, Motueka, and Golden Bay—all friendly rural backwaters. There's a wealth of vineyards along the strip toward Motueka, plus idyllic farms coastal communities and craft galleries and serious art studios tucked into the many valleys that run inland. Follow the inland route through historic Upper Moutere, with its blackcurrant and hop gardens, on your return. If you carry on south without turning to Motueka, look out for the birthplace of Ernest Rutherford, on the right as you're leaving the small town of Brightwater. Just five minutes south of Richmond the elaborate, atom-shaped monument remembers this local boy's contribution to the world of nuclear science.

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