Seven reasONs to visit Rotokura/Cable Bay, Nelson

Wildflowers, Rotokura. PHOTO: ONmag.

Wildflowers, Rotokura. PHOTO: ONmag.

Drive fifteen minutes east over the rolling hills out of Nelson and you’ll find the turn-off to Cable Bay, a charming cove well worth a day trip or a longer stay. ANNABEL WILSON shares seven reasons to explore the bay and its history.

  1. Wild walks – The Cable Bay walk starts at beach level and winds up through cabbage-tree studded farmland to the Glen. It’s a three and a half hour stroll one way, which provides spectacular coastal views. About twenty minutes up to the top of the first bluff, you can stop to take some #instaworthy pano-shots of the shingle beach and adjacent estuary, bisected by a boulder bank causeway linking to Pepin Island (which was purchased by a German princess). Further on, you can take in vistas of the Boulder Bank, Nelson City and all the way out to Abel Tasman National Park.

    Serenity, now. PHOTO: Cable Bay Kayaks.

    Serenity, now. PHOTO: Cable Bay Kayaks.

  2. Waves – On fine days typical of the ‘top of the south’, warm currents mean Cable Bay is a sweet spot for swimming. If there’s a sou-easter blowing and a bit of a swell, surfers can enjoy a left hand point break. The waves are hollow and fast, so this is not for rookies. This place is also a delight for sea kayakers, who can explore the main bay or get up close to nesting seabirds in the lagoon at high tide.

    Cable Bay cafe owner Mandy Hazlett with Prue Wilson and the writer.

    Cable Bay cafe owner Mandy McKellar with Prue Wilson and the writer.

  3. Cafe – Nestled on the western flank of the bay is one of Nelson’s oldest cafes. Managed by Mandy McKellar, the cafe is open Wednesday-Sunday over summer. Home-style bacon and egg breakfasts, delicious slices just like Nana used to make, healthy garden salads and Kiwi classics like ‘Andrew’s mince on toast’, jelly n’ icecream and fish n’chips can be enjoyed at a table inside the converted villa or al fresco in the garden. Kids love the sandpit and adults love the local beer and wine list!
  4. History – The area was first inhabited some 500-600 years ago by the Māori moa hunters, and evidence of their occupation has been found in middens containing adzes, fishing lures and flake knives of argillite. Its first name, Rotokura, was officially reinstated in August 2014, recognising Ngāti Tama ki Te Tau Ihui iwi’s original pā and ancestral links to the land. The name Cable Bay was given after the first telegraph cable connecting New Zealand to the world was dragged ashore in 1876. The cafe has photographs on the wall of the early telegraph office and workers’ buildings.

    Sunset, Cable Bay. PHOTO:

    Sunset, Cable Bay. PHOTO:

  5. Sunsets – Snuggle up on a picnic rug and raise a glass to the great New Zealand outdoors as dusk settles over the sea. Cable Bay is an ideal place to enjoy a sundowner after work, if you’re a Nelsonian wanting a minibreak during your busy week or a holidaymaker on the road.
  6. Art – Several artisans call Cable Bay home. On the drive in, you’ll notice various practitioners advertising their wares, many offering viewings by appointment. A visit to wooden furniture maker David Haig’s workshop is a must. His ‘Monogram’ rocking chairs are famous.

    Cable Bay Holiday Park. PHOTO:

    Cable Bay Holiday Park. PHOTO:

  7. Camping – If you’ve fallen in love with Cable Bay like I did, you’ll want to stay a while. Luckily, there’s a well-appointed Holiday Park next to the cafe with a campground, cabins, powered sites and newly built kitchen and bathroom facilities. Surrounded by native bush, you’re in earshot of rolling waves, bellbirds and tui. Just dreamy.
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