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Picton toward the Nelson Region there are two routes to drive. If the weather is good the most scenic route is the Queen Charlotte Drive that twists and winds its way through the Marlborough Sounds. One of the most picturesque drives in the country. Side trips from the Drive to go deeper into the Sounds are at Anakiwa where the beginning of the Queen Charlotte Track is located. Another nice drive to see the Sounds is at the turn by Linkwater all the way to Kenepuru Head. One of the most well known lodges is out this route, the Portage, and well worth the drive for the experience. Continuing on Queen Charlotte Drive the road finishes 36kms from Picton on Highway Six. Turn right and one is in the small hamlet of Havelock.
Havelock is one of those special small communities that has really done a great job in providing many reasons to stop and enjoy quality time. On the main street one will find several cafes, a real good pub, a couple of excellent galleries.
Turning to the right in town will take one to the Marina. It is quite evident the main events here are centered around the sea after all this is the Mussel Capital of New Zealand. A visitor must have a feed of mussels when in New Zealand and here is the best place fresh off the boats. For a good coffee, and food try the Slip Inn right on the harbour waterfront and plenty of room for parking. Great camp ground here also in the centre of town and on the harbour. The freshest fish to be found, if lucky, when passing through here there is fresh fish being sold by a local fisherman next to the Four Square market. This is a don't miss.
Explore the Sounds with scenic cruises and boat charters in Havelock.The Mussel Festival had its initial beginning in 2005 and looks to be a winner. If one wants to try mussels this is a good place to get too as there will be many ways the stalls will serve them. Great entertainment too. March each year.
From here to Nelson the road passes by the Pelorous River the most beautiful river in New Zealand and well worth a stop to enjoy at Pelorus Bridge. Past the river and through the small village of Rai Valley on the right once again one can explore the Marlborough Sounds for many kilometres as far out as Elaine Bay. Good camping both at Okiwi Bay and Elaine Bay.
From Rai Valley the road winds throught the Mt. Richmond Forest Park finally after 48 kilometres from Picton one arrives in the city of Nelson.
Entering Nelson from the east on Route 6 you continue along Tasman Bay to your right. Easy access into the town. Great cafes and restaurants (Morrison Street Cafe for excellent food and coffee) and shopping. Good place to get what one may need since most of the area now will provide only small communities.
From Nelson continue on out of town traveling west on Route 6 that meets up with Route 60 in Richmond. After leaving Richmond on the right is the Grape Escape worth stopping at to see one of New Zealand's most unique exhibits of not-to-be-missed carved wood art at the Escape Gallery.
Also if one enjoys glass work be sure to stop right down the road to Hoglund Glass Works right after the Grape Escape on the right and before the Richmond Motor Camp. From there Route 60 takes you northwest toward Mapua and Motueka and the Golden Bay area.An area of intense orchard and winery businesses. If a person never saw hops grown this will be a good first introduction. It is the fields with very tall poles and lines with the hops vines entwining themselves upward. One of the energies to enjoy about this area even more so than most of New Zealand is the roadside stands of fresh products. From here to Golden Bay they are everywhere.
Apples are king and you can find some almost any time of year. Another very important stop spot, if you enjoy fresh berries and other fresh produce, is Toddy's "Best Boysenberry Farm". Location is on River Road, first road on the left after crossing the Waimea River at Appleby heading west. Here one can pick or buy them at the shop. Best time is around the Christmas holidays. In addition they are growing New Zealand heritage vegetables.
Driving northwest on Route 6 you reach the turn off to Mapua. . At the Mapua marina is a spot where several shops, galleries and cafes dot the peripheral. Worth the short drive to visit.
On to Motueka a bustling small town that is user friendly for visiting camper vans. Motueka Beach Reserve has been set aside for self-contained vehicles a $5 per night. Toilets available and cold showers if you can handle it. There is also Kina Reserve out of town or the McKee Memorial Domain. Also a good place to pick up the access map of the Motueka River for later use. This is one of New Zealand's primary trout rivers supporting one of New Zealand's highest trout populations (275 trout per kilometre has been officially counted. though there wasn't any on the section fished!) .The average size is 2 lb with larger fish from 4lb to 8lb not uncommon. Above the Wangapeka confluence they average from 3-5 lb. On the river road heading toward Murchison one will discover the raspberry fields. There is also a wonderful place to stop for fresh fruit in season. Stop for blueberries and there is also a stop for fresh venison. Look for the sign on the left. It is great to shop along the way.