A 25 minute drive will take you from Nelson to the fantastic Rabbit Island (Moturoa) recreational reserve. About 500m after the Appleby Bridge on the Coastal Highway towards Mapua turn right and you're almost there.
Rabbit Island has big grassed areas for leisure activities and a beautiful sandy beach. There are plenty wood fired BBQs installed on the grassed areas and along the beach front which are inviting you to have a picnic with family and friends. Wood can usually be found next to the BBQs or gathered from the surroundings.
The beach on Rabbit Island is huge, especially when it's not high tide. You can walk for miles before you reach its end. If you don't like overcrowded beaches this is the beach for you! It's pretty safe for swimming around the main area where showers and toilets are available. At the very end of either side of Rabbit Island channels are running into the Waimea Estuary and strong currents can be present.
Apart from swimmers you will meet kayakers and even kite buggies if the conditions are right.
A big area on the island is a commercial pine tree plantation and there are some publicly accessible tracks for walking and cycling. Rabbit Island is part of the New Zealand Cycle Trail and you can take the a ferry from Rabbit Island over the channel to Mapua (Foot passengers and bikes only).
When coming from Nelson, leave Nelson on State Highway 6 towards Richmond. Keep on driving and leave Richmond behind you until you get to a big roundabout. Take the third exit (right) towards Motueka on State Highway 60. Follow the road and 500m after you crossed the Waimea River turn right onto Redwood Road just after Seifrieds Vineyard. Then just follow the road.