Two on-trend pastimes come together perfectly in Nelson this summer with the country’s first multi-day electric bike beer tour.
The idea of cycling around vineyards has a certain romantic quality but really, it’s way more fun to do that sort of thing with a brewery, pub or hopfield as the end destination. Let’s face it – what you would rather have at the end of a bike ride: a smooth merlot or a cold pale ale?
Nelson’s Gentle Cycling company came up with the idea of e-bike beer tours when owner Rose Griffin met Peter McGrath, who used to run Bays Brewery in Nelson.
McGrath started working for Gentle Cycling after getting to know Griffin.
“I knew Rose for about 10 years through her coming through our brewery and when a position became available for a person who picks up bikes and drops them off, I came to arrangement with her on a casual basis.”
When Griffin decided to launch a guided craft beer tour, a former brewer seemed the ideal guide.
“With my connection through the brewery it seemed to be a natural fit,” McGrath said. “I enjoy cycling – I like getting out on the bike. Not that I had much time for it previously … once we sold the brewery I had a bit more time up my sleeve.”
(As an aside Bays Brewery was sold to one of their contract customers Chia Sisters).
McGrath says the beauty of an e-bike tour in sunny (but sometimes hilly) Nelson is that fitness is not prerequisite.
“You don’t even need a medium level of fitness … you just need to stay upright.”
The tour takes in part of the famed Great Taste Trail and is split into three easy days. There are two tours, one leaving February 27 and the other departing on March 16. And to inspire you further, if you’re reading this here you can get a $100 discount by using a code we’ll give you at the end of the story … ride on.
The first day is an easy 22km from Stoke to Mapua to Ruby Bay.
Riders are shuttled from their accommodation to stoke for a 10am briefing followed by a 15-minute “warm-up” ride to League of Brewers home brew shop. A short pedal from there and you’re at McCashins Brewery for a tour and tasting. Eddyline Brewery & Pizzaria for beers & pizzas is the lunch destination and if you’re really burning up energy you can call into Pic’s Peanut Butter World. From there it’s on to Sprig & Fern Brewery in Richmond for a “behind the scenes” tour and chat with Tracy Banner.
Lunch at Eddyline is pizza and beer.
Swimming is optional at Rabbit Island beach before a ferry ride to the famous wharf at Mapua. With McGrath taking care of the logistics, your luggage will be at your accommodation. After a quick freshen up you have the rest of the evening enjoy a few more beers at the glorious Golden Bear for great beers and Cali-Mex food or just grab some fish n chips and watch the water from the wharf. There’s also a Sprig & Fern tavern in Mapua.
Your bed for the night is at Korepo Lodge in Ruby Bay, just 10 minutes on the e-bikes from Mapua Wharf. The lodge features contemporary NZ artworks, a huge lounge and deck, expansive dining area and fully equipped kitchen. All rooms are confortable en-suite.
The second day’s pedalling is slightly longer – around 30km from Ruby Bay to Upper Moutere and back.
Breakfast at the lodge is followed by a day on quiet country roads in the “Tuscany of NZ” (but with hop gardens as well as vineyards).
The first stop is Kentishman hop garden and you’ll be able to see the annual hop harvest in all its glory. Learn about the process of growing, harvesting and drying the hops and soak in the magic aromas of these delightful beer flavourers.
Carry on to the famed Moutere Inn freehouse (below) for some local bevvies and lunch.
There’s some free time to explore the area, including Neudorf Vineyards, Michael MacMillan’s brick barn gallery and Barlett & Gold ceramics gallery.
Ride back to Korepo Lodge for a barbecue dinner and a relaxing night in the garden.
The last day is the longest, 35km to the glorious Kaiteriteri beach.
After breakfast, it’s a scenic 30-minute ride to Tasman village, where there’s a coffee shop for those needing a little extra pick-me-up. Lunch is at the exquisite Toad Hall Cafe in Motueka followed by a scheduled behind the scenes tour of Townshend Brewery – a visit that is sure to make all the pedalling worthwhile.
A pit-stop at Hop Federation in Riwaka for a tasting and a chat with brewer Simon Nicholas is followed by a short 7.5km ride to Kaiteriteri. The last 3.5km follows the Easy Rider trail through the Kaiteriteri Mountain Bike Park. It’s not at all a technical and the bike will power you along it.
Take a celebration dip in the ocean before loading bikes and jumping into the van for the return trip, arriving Nelson 5pm.
If you want to extend your trip and stay and explore the Able Tasman National there’s an option for a night at the Kimi Ora Eco Resort.
The other option, if you’re on the March trip is to make a real week of it and go to the annual Marchfest event at Founders Park for a day of great music, beer and entertainment.
There’s a special deal for readers of hoppiness.co.nz – save $100 per person if you use the code hoppiness when booking.
Hop Harvest E Bike Tour, 3 days 2 nights: $980 pp (twin share) … remember you can save $100 per person using the code hoppiness
Trip 1: Saturday February 27
Trip 2: Tuesday March 16
– E Bike hire (Avanti Discovery E Low or Avanti Explorer E Low)
– Door-to-door transfers to and from Nelson
– Guide escort with support vehicle
– Detailed topographic route maps
– Mapua Ferry ticket
– Accommodation, queen/twin share en-suite at Korepo Lodge, Ruby Bay
– Two breakfasts, one BBQ dinner Korepo Lodge, one lunch Toad Hall & one tasting tray Townshend Brewery
– McCashins Brewery tour & tasting
– Hop garden harvest tour
– Visit to private Hop Kiln Museum
Itinerary also includes:
– Brewery visits with “behind the scenes” at Sprig & Fern, Townshend, Hop Federation
– Visit to Eddyline Brewpub & Golden Bear Brewery
– Visit to the Moutere Inn