Walking or cycling along Motueka Quay
Whether in sections or along its full length, this path is probably the most used among recreational walkers and cyclists in Motueka. Being a one-way 4km track, you either do it out and back, or return via some other inland route.
There are three parts to the track, each a great shorter walk in itself. For the complete walk we'll start it at the northern end, at the entrance to the Raumanuka Scenic Reserve, and end at Port Motueka.
Along the way, the walking is easy and cycling very gentle, although the strip between Old Wharf Road and the Port is bumpy enough to be inappropriate for thinner-tyred road bikes. Do remember, though, that the track is dual use - for cyclists and walkers (often with dogs) - and each must remain aware and considerate of the other legitimate users.
And throughout the stroll, be mindful of the great work - which is ongoing - of the people of Keep Motueka Beautiful who created and maintain the walkway.
Leave your car at the Raumanuka Scenic Reserve at the end of Staples Street and start the walk southward. To your left are the inlet and sandbars with driftwood, shells and birdlife; beyond is the open sea of Tasman Bay and D’Urville Island beyond; and on your right is the farmland and outskirts of Motueka and beyond the ranges of Kahurangi National Park.
You'll come across a white seat dedicated to Thomas Milton, a tireless community worker. Nearby you can branch off to walk view the start of the Motueka sandspit and perhaps walk a little of it (see separate details here).
Your track takes you around the top reaches of the inlet behind the sandspit, and depending on the tide you can see how the water ebbs and flows twice daily, providing either a widening expanse of mudflats or a peaceful lagoon.
Further along you pass alongside the golf course on your right, and through a delightful stand of pine forest, with some nice sandy areas to sit beside the water (or mud, if the tide's out).
As you emerge from this foreshore walk, you meet the road named Motueka Quay, which starts just north of Harbour Road. Continue along this path (or use the road itself if you prefer). Gradually the estuary to the left broadens, while some of the houses on your right, including one owned by the Talley family, show some interesting styles and glorious gardens.
A good place to take a rest is the spot officially called the Motueka Quay, where work is underway this year (2011) to refurbish and landscape the parking and picnicking area. Off to the left is the remaining part of the old wharf, which is also a nice place to sit and view nature (including perhaps godwits on the foreshore of the sandspit opposite) or the much-photographed wreck of the Jaine Seddon.
Of great interest at the Quay is the sculpture with its explanatory boards of the history of the area. This provides an excellent potted summary of the important elements of the town's history, all readable within a few minutes. If you haven't studied this already, make sure you do next time.
When you reach the westward street to Motueka, Old Wharf Road, continue on along the track paralleling the foreshore. Take your time here as the path meanders between the water's edge and a real mix of stylish homes and old beach baches. Each offers a unique view of the relaxed living of its inhabitants. Also appreciate some of the plantings along the reserve looked after by Keep Motueka Beautiful.
One favourite spot for many is the little picnic spot created by one of the locals with its corrugated iron roof and driftwood seating. At times a power extension cord is seen, showing how it is used for social events. A real gem of kiwiana!
Finally you reach the Port Motueka Reserve, the saltwater baths and camping area, and down to the Port wharf. The saltwater pool is one of only a few left in the country. As its noticeboard explains, local people and businesses made an effort several years ago to renovate them for ongoing use, and it's a popular spot during the summer months for families - and a great jumping off stage for show-off young folk.
In the warmer months the pool is flushed out regularly and the water is always warmer than the surrounding estuary.
Beside the pool, on both sides of the connecting platform, the beach area is very safe for swimming when the tide is well in.
If you have a favourite thing you like to do - a walking place, attraction, quiet spot - so the rest of us can check it out and enjoy it too, please tell us about it here.