The Ruby Coast: A Gem by Name and by Nature

Lori Keller

September 18, 2013

Great Spots


A short drive from Nelson, at the top of the South Island, is the Ruby Coast. A special part of the Tasman region, Ruby Bay and it’s surrounds are sandwiched between the coastal towns of Mapua and Motueka.

The area has long attracted Kiwis holiday makers and visitors from overseas keen to indulge in it’s long sunshine hours and laid back atmosphere. Renowned for high quality food and wine, the area is home to some of the region’s top chefs, restaurants, winemakers,and artisans.

Aerial of Ruby Coastline

Aerial View of Ruby Coastline

Not only is the food and wine exceptional, the outdoor recreational opportunities are world class. Nestled between three National Parks (Nelson Lakes, Abel Tasman, and Kahurangi) and stunning Tasman Bay,  the area hosts a wide variety of guided and unguided sporting options:  hiking, fishing (fresh & salt water), cycling, kite-surfing, and kayaking are all popular pastimes.

High quality, fully serviced, camping grounds are located in nearby Mapua and Motueka. Two less developed, council operated, camping grounds, McKee Memorial Reserve and Kina Beach, are located a stones throw from the beach with unobstructed views east across Tasman Bay.

McKee Memorial Reserve

McKee Memorial Reserve

Beach at McKee Memorial Reserve

McKee Memorial Reserve is a short 7 minute drive (20 minute cycle) from Mapua Village, along the old coastal highway. Prior to 2010, all traffic going to Motueka, Abel Tasman, and Golden Bay had to pass the site. With the construction of the Ruby Bay by-pass, most commuters and travellers now choose to save time and take the dual carriageway away from the coast. This has resulted in Mckee Memorial Reserve re-establishing itself as an ‘off-the-beaten-track’ camping site.

A further 10km north of McKee Memorial Reserve on the quieter Kina Cliffs Road, is Kina Beach Camping Ground. Located 7 km from Motueka and only 1km from the popular  Tasman Golf Club , the campsite is a nice place to relax for a couple of days.

Tasman Golf Club: View from 3rd Tee

Tasman Golf Club: View from 3rd Tee

If visiting the area in March and April, you will find roadside stalls heaped with apples, pears, and nuts. The area is one of NZ’s most prolific producers of apples, and you will often pay no more than $1/kg for the fruit in season. A new website, Stall Spot, has recently been created to help people looking for local food producers. It’s a great tool to help you find tasty, locally produced, delicacies.

With such a vast array of experiences available, you may spend longer than you expect in this part of NZ.  Why not take an extra day to enjoy the sun and the sea along the Ruby Coast . . . moving on can wait another day.


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