The route follows the old coastal highway around the fringe of Tasman Bay between Richmond and Motueka. The alternative route is the Inland Highway, again linking Richmond and Motueka, this time over the rolling Moutere Hills (pronounced moo-terry).
The layout makes for an ideal loop trip – but this website should convince you to take more than a day for this! A whole holiday could easily be spent on the Ruby Coast Moutere Hills…who knows, you might become one of the many holidaymakers who decide to make this area their permanent residence.
If you’re planning to visit Golden Bay, another option for building the area into your holiday is to take in the Ruby Coast on the outward leg of your trip, and explore the Moutere Hills as you head back to Nelson.
The region has a population of approximately 3,500 and a mild climate with summer days in the mid 20 degrees Celsius; while winter mornings often start with a frost, leading into a warm and sunny day.
The tangata whenua (people of the land) are Te Atiawa and Ngāti Rārua and have a marae, Te Awhina, in Motueka. European settlement began from the 1840's and included German settlers as well as immigrants from Great Britain.
The economy was based for many years on pastoral farming and horticulture (mainly pip fruit), but has now diversified into grape growing, wine making and tourism.
The Moutere Hills
This area is the result of a deep gravel formation laid down by successive glacial deposits in the last two million years. Their rolling appearance is due to erosion by wind and weather and streams that have cut deeply between the hills.
The Waimea Estuary is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. This estuary along with the Moutere Inlet are food source, home and nursery for a wide variety of bird life and flourishing ecosystems. In mid-September you may catch the return of the godwits having made a dramatic non-stop migration flight of 11,500km from Alaska back to their breeding grounds in the estuary.