Spending two weeks in the Motueka area, I was struck by how much the landscape is dominated by agriculture. Many of the hills are covered in pine forest and the flat lowlands are devoted to orchards of apples and kiwifruit and strings of hops.
The commercial orchards require a lot of chemical input. There used to be a factory at Mapua that made agricultural chemicals, many of which have been banned.
As reported by New Zealand Geographic:
…this sad and barren land is a highly toxic waste area laced with agricultural poisons strong enough to kill the hardiest plague of insects. Lying empty and abandoned since 1988 when the Fruitgrowers Chemical Company (FCC) finally closed after 56 years of manufacturing a cocktail of toxic agricultural chemicals and pesticides, the site has sat unused and unusable.
The legacy of the factory is still being felt with contaminated land that cannot be used for home-grown vegetables (as instructed by a recent letter from the council to residents). And it can’t be a coincidence that there are very few mosquitoes or sandflies around Mapua…one of the nicer side effects of being near a toxic chemical plant that has contaminated land and water far beyond the confines of the area that has been remediated .
The best parts of Motueka are down by the estuary, the grandly named Port Motueka. If you look past the Talley's seafood processing plant and head office, you can see the beauty of this tidal landscape.
And the river is beautiful.
The Coastal Cafe is a good place to be on a dry day. It makes excellent coffee and you can watch the birdlife amongst the boats.
And you can wander up the coast to see the wreck of the Janie Seddon, which was scuppered in the 1950s and is gradually being reclaimed by the estuary.
For more on the history of the Janie Seddon, head here.