Elisabeth Easther explores a piece of paradise, at the top of the South Island.
Where is it?
At the top of the South Island in the Tasman District, 45 minutes from Abel Tasman National Park, 40km from Nelson — snug between Mapua and Motueka.
Origin of name: Tasman Village was called Aporo (Maori for apple) until 1906 when it was renamed for Dutch explorer Abel Tasman.
Population: 400 or so (including Kina Beach).
Town icon: The 9m-high gateway sculpture on Moutere inlet at the Tasman Village turnoff, made of stainless steel. It represents the estuary's birds.
Town slogan: Taste of Tasman.
Famous locals: Aly Cook, internationally renowned country and western singer/songwriter. Nathan Fa'avae, four-time adventure racing world champion.
Infamous locals: Sons of Tasman — a group of local Harley owners. They're a big bunch of pussy cats with patches, who like to get on their bikes and ride.
Best website: Through the Lens in Tasman — a Facebook page filled with stunning photographs.
Big business: Years ago the township was built on orchards, today it's more about arts, crafts, vineyards and tourism.
An opportunity: Buy the store and cafe (they're for sale) and start doing dinners because there's no evening eating in Tasman Village. The locals would love you for it.
Source of pride: The community, they're so very generous and supportive.
Town fiestas: Taste Tasman is a school fundraiser held every two years with the focus on delicious local food and wine. Or pop along to the annual Muddy Buddy, get kitted up in fancy dress, head to the inlet and get completely caked in mud, before being cleaned off with fire hoses. Good clean fun.
Best reason to stop: To enjoy a glimpse of paradise.
Far from the madding crowds: Even in the height of summer or during the school holidays, if you see 10 people on the beach, that's a busy day.
Best place to take kids: Jester House is a modern medieval, eco-friendly cafe that blows minds — fabulous gardens, wacky art, tame eels to feed, so much to explore and enjoy. Voted New Zealand's Cafe of the Year 2013/14.
Best playground: Kina Beach — who needs swings when you've got rock pools?
Best bike ride: The Tasman Great Taste Trail trundles through Tasman Village, and it bursts with sublime cycling and eating.
Best walk: At low tide, walk to the end of the beach and around the peninsula and daydream about one day owning a house along there.
Best place to pull over: At the gateway sculpture and picnic area.
Best swim: Anywhere along Kina Beach — although it's tidal so be sure to time your visit right.
Nice arts: There are several acclaimed artists living here, most with open galleries - Sue Newitt (traditional potter), Steve Fullmer (quirky potter), Jane Smith (watercolour painter) and Darryl Frost (wood-fired ceramics), his crazy garden and gallery charms visitors.
Top shop: The Tasman Store sells petrol, locally produced olive oils and produce and grocery items including real fruit icecreams.
Cream of the coffee: All Tasman coffee is super but for fresh roasted beans go to The Tasman Store, home of Grind Coffee, where Lance individually roasts each batch, resulting in fabulous flavour.
Baked: The Tasman Store do all sorts of delicious baking with the Cyclists' Slice — a wholesome energy-rich bar to keep the wheels on the bike going round and round. They also bake epic cakes, muffins and pies. Their cheese scones are world famous.
Best food: Jester House is just staggeringly cool, serving fresh, tasty, wholesome food made with local ingredients. Their hashbrown breakfast will make you weep tears of happiness, ditto the twice-baked three-cheese souffle and the wild venison burger.
Wet your whistle: Enjoy a wine tasting at Kina Beach Vineyard for a vino with views.
Stay a while: Accommodation ranges from down-to-earth to full-blown luxury. The Boot B&B at Jester House is like something out of a fairy tale. The Old Schoolhouse at Kina Beach Vineyard is all about opulence while Aroha Cottage is a homely little sweetie.
Best mountain biking:
has tracks for all abilities including a pump and skills track.
Best adventures: Kayaking, fishing, cycling, golfing, hiking — the entire region is one big, fat treasure.
Best-kept secret: The Tasman golf course — it's a nine-hole links course set on a coastal cliff, so be sure to take a few spare balls.
Wildlife: Aside from the vast array of seabirds, you can feed the eels in the stream at Jester House or visit the bachelor seal who lives in the bay.
The verdict: Welcome to paradise.