Mattinbgn on Wikipedia© Mattinbgn on Wikipedia
Mattinbgn on Wikipedia

5 Best Things to Do in Wakefield & Tapawera

© Mattinbgn on Wikipedia

What to Do in Wakefield & Tapawera, the Hidden Gems of Nelson

We say they are the “hidden gems of Nelson”, but Wakefield and Tapawera aren’t exactly hidden. Located on State Highway 6 between Nelson and Murchison, Wakefield is a town many pass through without realising what they are missing. Wakefield is one of the earliest European settlements in New Zealand boasting the oldest church and longest-running school in the country. There are some fascinating stories to discover at the local heritage centre while participating in old-world activities like making your own knife! If you’re more into nature, visit the local gardens or venture to Tapawera meaning “the edge of the burning forest” where you’ll find the gateway to the Kahurangi National Park. Check out what else is possible in this quick list of things to do in Wakefield and Tapawera!

While you’re here, you might also be interested in the 15 Things to Do in Nelson City.

1. Hike the Wangapeka Track

Discover the beauty of the Wangapeka River along the multi-day Wangapeka Track. The Wangapeka Track takes 4-6 days to complete, taking hikers through steep mountainous landscapes, crossing two saddles and delving into the forested valleys of four different rivers. This is a one-way trail where you will need to organise transport at the other end. The trail ends on Wangapeka Road near Little Wanganui, 18km (11 miles) south of Karamea. Find out what to do on the other end in our 7 Amazing Things to Do in Karamea.

Location: Wangapeka River Road, Prices Clearing. West of Tapawera. Note that there is a ford crossing which can be impassable after heavy rain.

Robert (Bic) Bicknell on Wikipedia© Robert (Bic) Bicknell on Wikipedia

2. Play at the Golden Downs Golf Club

The low green fees are just one enticement to play at the Golden Downs Golf Club while in the Tapawera area. The sunny climate matched with the serene location makes playing a round of golf in Tapawera very appealing. The golf course is known for having the longest par 5 in New Zealand at 659m (720 yards). Check out more golf courses around the country in the 21 Best Golf Courses in New Zealand.

Location: Valley Road, 14km (9 miles) south of Tapawera.

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3. Visit the Higgins Heritage Park & Steam Museum

Experience the pioneering days at the Higgins Heritage Park & Steam Museum. The 4.5ha (11 acres) of heritage park is packed with transport, logging, farming and other heritage exhibitions to give you an insight into early life in New Zealand. You might even be lucky enough to catch the Steam Museum firing up the steam engines on their regular demonstration days. Pop in on the first and third Sunday of each month between September and April. Other times of the year, the heritage park is open on the first Sunday of each month. It’s possible to book visits.

Location: 222 Pigeon Valley Road, 3km (2 miles) northwest of Wakefield.

Higgins Heritage Park & Steam Museum© Higgins Heritage Park & Steam Museum

4. Make Your Own Knife

Make like a blacksmith and create your own knife! This full-day activity involves forging a steel blade with a traditional blacksmith toolkit before tidying the blade up on a grinder to make your knife look the real deal! The activity with Make a Knife also include a gourmet pizza lunch.

Location: Based at the Higgins Heritage Park, 222 Pigeon Valley Road, 3km (2 miles) northwest of Wakefield.

Make a Knife© Make a Knife

5. Wander Around the Gardens of the World

Pack a picnic or just enjoy wandering around the picturesque Gardens of the World. This garden collection features various themed gardens from the Oriental Garden to the Water Garden. The gardens are alive with birdsong and it’s very possible to spot fantails, tui, bellbird and kereru. The Gardens of the World also offers guided tours to learn more about the interesting trees and plants here.

Location: Corner of Patons Road and Clover Road, 9km (6 miles) northeast of Wakefield.

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More Things to Do Near Wakefield and Tapawera

That’s it for the best things to do in Wakefield and Tapawera. Find more activities for your travels in the 51 Best Things to Do in the South Island.


Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in New Zealand over 10 years ago and with a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to travel New Zealand. She knows Aotearoa inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience New Zealand’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides and is the co-host of NZ Pocket Guide’s live New Zealand travel Q&As on YouTube.

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