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It was bound to happen. Motueka is out of the bag. Just a few years ago it was the poor neighbour of Nelson – home to hops and other crops, a sleepy outpost with a muddy foreshore and low-rent high street.
But now it’s reaping the rewards of its irrefutably rich location. Three national parks on its doorstep, Kaiteriteri’s golden beach just 15 minutes to its north, and a clean river with world class trout fishing.
And that’s just a few of its highlights.
The town centre of ‘Mot’ has blossomed. It reaches fever pitch in the middle of summer, but it does a decent bustle all year round.
There are plenty of places to eat and drink, along with a small museum, and an interesting community art gallery.
The Sunday market is not to be missed, especially Doris’s legendary bratwurst wagon and possibly New Zealand’s best sausage sandwich.
The Motueka Top 10 Holiday Park is the perfect place to stay. It’s an easy one-kilometre walk to the centre of town, yet the atmosphere is quiet and leafy.
The site was originally known as Fearon’s Bush, a piece of native bush gifted to the citizens by Captain Edward Fearon way back in the mid-eighteenth century.
His legacy lives on in the many grand old native trees that stand guardian over grounds, including the towering kahikatea that make the holiday park feel as tall as it is wide.
And no doubt the Cap’n would be heartened by the interpretative panels that identify the many treasure trees and birds to be found.
Between the trees, lawns dominate, in a camping area populated by tents and small vans. The sites are relatively roomy –180 in all – accessed by low-key driveways that avoid that severe tarmac feel.
Around the rear perimeter, a 25-foot high hedge provides a verdant backdrop, privacy and ample shade.
The communal facilities are excellent, including the kitchen area which is a campers’ dream, being modern, well-designed, clean and air-conditioned.
Upstairs is a large lounge which doubles as a movie room – great for getting rid of the kids for an hour or two.
Blending well into the complex, most of the built accommodation is less than 10 years old and offers practical, inexpensive options for groups up to eight. There are motel units of various sizes, as well as cabins with and without kitchens.
In the colder months when there are less campers around, these accommodation options really come into their own: a nice warm place to stay that’s kind to the wallet, with the grounds to yourself and a hot spa pool to boot!
We visited the park in the height of summer, during the Christmas holidays. The Mot Top 10 was in full swing, especially around the swimming pool where there was much frolicking.
In a quieter corner, a clutch of children got to grips with giant chess, while others had a bounce-off on the jumping pillow.
This is a whole load of happy times, rolled into one. But in no way is this place an accident.
The owners have camping in the blood – Jeanette grew up in holiday parks, her parents having owned and managed various parks around New Zealand.
Co-owner and husband Steve has the look of a man who gets things done, and has a quick smile and wit that’s essential when dealing with 46,000 visitors each year.
This cheer also extends to the Top 10’s popular hand-picked tour of the local wineries and visit to ye olde Moutere Inn – one of the country’s oldest boozers – for a pint or two of Kiwi craft beer.
Well, hats off to Jeanette and Steve and the rest of their crew, because seldom do the words ‘holiday’ and ‘park’ go so well together. Whether inside the gates our outside of them, the Motueka Top 10 offers the whole, relaxing package.
Motueka Top 10 Holiday Park, 10 Fearon Street, Motueka.
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