Off The Beaten Path: Havelock, New Zealand
Where New Zealand’s Pelorus and Kaiuma Rivers meet, lies a town called Havelock, also known as the green shell mussel capital of the world. Although not (yet) a well-known tourist destination, this coastal hamlet nevertheless boasts of varied activities guaranteed to give visitors a great time.
Explore Destinations on your Own
Outdoor enthusiasts rent out sea kayaks and inflatable canoes to explore the waters around Havelock. Private water taxis and fishing boats are also available for hire by small groups for either day trips or overnight charter.
Go on a Mussel Cruise
A day on the water. The mussel farms out on the sound are worth a three-hour cruise, especially on a sunny day. Tour operators offer freshly-harvested steamed mussels onboard paired with excellent New Zealand wine. Even if you’re not a big mussels fan, it’s still a relaxing way to spend a lazy afternoon on the water cruising through some of the most picturesque scenery in the sound.
As a coastal fishing village, it’s easy to see why so many of Havelock’s charms and attractions can be found on the water. But land lovers have plenty to enjoy as well. Havelock has miles and miles of nature trails that hikers of varying physical capabilities can enjoy on their own. Guided walking tours are available as well.
Housed in a space not much bigger than a modern college classroom, the Havelock Museum nevertheless gives visitors a broad view of the town’s history. If you’re visiting with young children in tow, it’s the perfect drop-by place to keep them occupied for a spell. If nothing else, the train outside will be sure to catch and hold their attention.
The Shark Nett Maori Art Gallery is open to the public from late October until the end of March. The gallery features a private collection of Maori carvings, each with an interesting bit of Havelock story or New Zealand history attached. Visitors who can only come outside the regular gallery hours can request a private tour.
Nelson Lakes National Park
Just an hour and a half drive southwest of Havelock is the Nelson Lakes National Park, one of New Zealand’s most popular destinations. The park’s more than 100,000 hectares consist of alpine peaks, several biking and hiking trails, glacial lakes, and stunning vistas.
Perhaps Havelock’s best feature is what it does not have – crowds. Off-the-beaten path, yet offering a truly interesting and varied vacation experience, it may just be New Zealand’s best kept secret destination.