Topics include Things to Do, Dining Scene & more!
South Island, New Zealand
This is without a doubt one of the top areas to enjoy visiting. A real hidden paradise. The arrival by road, air or sea is an equally spectacular discovery. You can fly direct from Wellington to Takaka Airport year round on Golden Bay's own boutique airline, walk in via the Abel Tasman National Park, or the Heaphy Track, or catch a sea shuttle into Totoranui, in Northern Abel Tasman National Park and a bus from there.
For those driving, let's begin the run to Golden Bay after passing through the small town of Riwaka a few kms north of Motueka on Route # 60. After a curve in the road around the field of hops it is all go up the "Marble Mountain". Just on the left not too far up the hill are a couple of pull-offs so one can have a look at the stunning valley just left and looking out across the Riwaka River Valley toward the Kahurangi National Park and the Arthur Mountain Range.
Up and up the road winds to the summit of 791 metres. The odd type of rock should be noted jutting out all over the place. Just prior to the summit are two places you to stop. There is the road to the Ngarua Cave next to the lookout stop and further on is an off road trip to Canaan country of 11 kilometres to the 183 metre deep Harwood's Hole. This is one of the deepest holes in the world and worth having a look at. It isn't recommended to anyone with a large vehicle except perhaps in the off season, very narrow gravel road with very few places to pass.
After the summit the road begins the descent on a grand scale. Stop at Harwood's Lookout for a real look at Golden Bay from this height. As one descends it seems the road goes on forever. There is a bird's eye look at the valley below. Some real twist and turns but the road is in excellent shape and no worries. Upon reaching the valley floor near Upper Takaka a picturesque land of milk and honey appears. Gentle rolling farmland. To the left is the Cobb Valley and a 27km drive again not recommended for camper vans. A startling place to visit for the views of Mount Arthur, one of the Lord of the Rings sites and the Cobb reservoir. This is the most popular access to the Kahurangi Park for walks.
Route 60 continues through the valley to the main centre of Takaka where one can enjoy top cafes, restaurants, galleries and shops. A place where it felt one had moved back in time to the hippy era of the 60’s with all its alternative lifestylers. A peaceful quiet community with the locals happy and offering smiling hello’s. This is artist and craftspeople country and every known art design options are everywhere. A tour of the countryside will attest to the fact this has more art and craft galleries, studios and shops than anywhere in New Zealand. Don't miss the opportunity to stop by the Golden Bay Museum and the attached Gallery. Oh by the way try the Golden Bay Salami and for a good meal and top coffee at the Wholemeal Café. This is also a place to enjoy organic restaurants and food.
Take the Able Tasman Drive east from Takaka to Pohara (got a great coffee shop there that does Totally Roasted coffee), and on to Wainui Bay to enjoy the coastal area. One can go on but the road gets rough. To the right as a person drives out this route is the Abel Tasman National Park. This is an area of fabulous walks along bush fringed golden beaches. Check at the Information Centre in Takaka for complete information. On the way to Pohara one may want to experience the Labrynth Rocks a maze-like limestone carved rock area nature has carved from the Karst rock.
The three top attractions in Golden Bay are first, the incredibe Wharariki Beach, in western Golden Bay - a short 20 minute walk across farmlands reveals a paradise of sand dunes, off shore island arches, and clear pools full of curious baby seals. Travellers should not miss out Pupu Springs, a must visit. The world's clearest water and one of the largest in the world. A pleasant walk through the facility. It is free also. The other is to see the world's longest sandspit at Farewell Spit out from the visitor's Centre at Puponga. This requires a booking for the ride out but well worth it. The drive to Puponga is along Golden Bay. Lots of one way bridges and also several places to pull over and enjoy the Bay itself. The road going up to the Visitor's centre is a shocker for the amount of traffic that it has on it so be careful if you have a large vehicle. No place to give way. On the road out on the left is one fine cafe/restaurant the Mussel Inn that is heartily recommend.
The end of the road for Route 60 is the town of Collingwood dead ending at a motor camp. It is recommended to stop at the Collingwood Tavern. Believe it or not this town was once in the running to become the nation's capital during the gold rush of the 1850's. Wonderful sleepy little town - thank goodness.
The Tasman District encourages freedom camping for self-contained vehicles. There are many wonderful quiet spots to spend the night and day if so desired. There is a very remote spot to enjoy at the outlet of the Anatori River many kilometres from the turnoff of Route Sixty to the south toward Mangarakau. The road is dirt and narrow most of the way but no problems. Definitely not much traffic. It is the home of New Zealand's largest wetlands. An interesting semi-isolated area to explore and enjoy for its wildness. Lots of accommdation on all levels throughout the region. Take the time and one will find New Zealand's best kept secret spot far from the maddening crowds.This area is where the world famous Heaphy Track begins and also many of the other popular tracks of this country. Check it out. The Information Site in Takaka has all the information for activities, accommodations.
Here are some links to help you with information on the region: