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Rabbit Island Nelson

Rabbit Island, Nelson, New Zealand

Rabbit Island, Nelson.
Relaxing on the beach

Over the Christmas and New Year period, many New Zealanders will be heading to the beach.

Rabbit Island (Moturoa), a 20-minute drive from central Nelson on state highways 6 and 60, is one such beach. Indeed, it is one of the best and safest beaches for swimming in the area.

Of the three sandy islands in the Waimea Estuary, Rabbit Island is the largest with 13 km of sandy beach. The other two islands are Rough Island and Bird Island. Pine plantation forest covers much of the island which is also a haven for birds.

There are designated picnic and BBQ areas which are particularly popular at this time of year.

Paddle boarding in the sea.
Paddleboarding in the sea


Nelson is a coastal town about 60 km west of Blenheim and is also part of the Marlborough region. Like Blenheim, Nelson gets an average of 6.8 sunshine hours per day.

Nelson has about 50,000 inhabitants and is the biggest fishing port in New Zealand (and even bigger than Australia's biggest). Forestry, farming and market gardening make up the other main industries. Nelson was also a major international tourist destination before the advent of the coronavirus. A major feature of Nelson is its arts and crafts scene, which includes the annual Nelson Arts Festival.

Taking a dip on Rabbit Island.
Taking a dip on Rabbit Island

Access - Getting There

The beach is connected with Mapua Village by a convenient cycle ferry. The island forms part of the Great Taste Trail, a cycleway from Richmond to Motueka.

Rabbit Island as a monitored reserve (Rabbit Island Recreation Reserve) is closed overnight. Dogs are prohibited.

For more information and visiting hours check

There are a few places to stay near the beach back on the mainland. These include Appleby House & Rabbit Island Huts and Redwood Valley B & B. Both offer guest house style accommodation.

Nelson offers a wider choice of accommodation.

See a listing of hotels in Nelson.

Moturoa / Rabbit Island.
Moturoa / Rabbit Island

Map of New Zealand's Sunniest Towns

Nelson is one of New Zealand's sunniest places
Nelson is one of New Zealand's sunniest places

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