Things to do in Golden Bay

New Zealand is well known for it’s exotic mix of all kinds of natural environments and wildlife, and is a popular place to visit for holiday makers all over the globe. However, while the soft golden sands and crystal coastline of Golden Bay offer a truly unique and stunning attraction in their own right, there’s also some fantastic fishing to be found very close by. If you’re looking for a trip that combines the fantastic natural beauty of New Zealand with some top quality salmon fishing, then Golden Bay is the destination of choice.

- contributed by Susan Fry -

Here for a short time: Visit crystal-clear Te Waikoropupu Springs (aka Pupu Springs); check out Farewell Spit, one of the longest sand spit reserves in the world; pitch a tent at DoC's Totaranui camp, visit museums or go to various beaches where you can try your hand at fishing, horse trekking, kayaking, kite surfing or making your own fun.

Best reason to stop: With only one way in and one way out, if you didn't stop you'd have to turn round and go out again.

Town and around: Takaka township has a heritage vibe, with many of the buildings more than 100 years old. Plaques tell the stories of many of the buildings' origins, while blank walls have been decorated by local artists whose murals focus largely on history and culture.

Town fiestas: Mardi Gras, held every two years, is 12 hours of non-stop fun, while the annual Luminate Festival comprises eight days of music, arts, culture and inspiration at Canaan Downs. And yoga, there's a whole lot of yoga going on down here.

Best place to take kids: You can catch your own kai at Anatoki Salmon and feed the eels at Wild Earth nature park.  Labyrinth Rocks is ace for exploring, The Grove is a magical walk through rock and bush up to the lookout, and not too demanding. Then there's Farewell Spit Tours, Cape Farewell Horse Treks, paddling at Tata Beach with Golden Bay Kayaks and, for bigger kids, walking the Heaphy Track is a super adventure.

Farewell Spit Tour, Golden Bay

Best facilities: Almost all the toilets have murals painted on them - great for comfort stops and photo ops.

Best walks: Labyrinth Rocks, just 2km out of Takaka, are a maze-like network of canyons running through a limestone outcrop - geologically kooky. It is an enchanting family attraction. The Pupu Hydro Walkway retraces an old gold mining water-race and takes about two hours - stunning. The Grove Lookout takes about 20 minutes to reach through limestone, rata forest and native bush. And, of course, this is the gateway to Abel Tasman National Park.

Best views: This region is spoiled for pretty vistas from Rameka Track, Clifton to the Grove Lookout, Canaan, Takaka Hill - Harwood's Lookout, Pohara and Tata Beach to name a few.

Best place to pull over: The viewing platform up Takaka Hill, check out the magical valley scenes.

Best swims: Tata for a steep, deep golden sand beach, Pohara for a large flat beach or Ligar for golden sands. Also visit Wharariki Beach or Wainui Falls.

Best museums: Golden Bay Museum in Takaka and Collingwood Museum are little gold mines filled with gems from the past, both detailing colonial and pre-European history with gusto.

Nice arts: There are several art galleries in town and around. The Arts Guide is available from the visitor centre, although strolling round town you'll find a fair bit of art off your own bat.

Top shops: There are several groovy artisan stores including the Artisans Gallery and the Monza Gallery, add to your wardrobe at Mariposa, Amika or Wildflower and why not grab some shoes you'll love forever from Soul - you won't find many chain stores here.

Cream of the coffee: There are several great coffee shops in town, with the oldest and best-known being the organic Wholemeal Cafe - and if you like what you eat buy one of their cookbooks and see if you can create it yourself.

Get baked: Visit De-lish for cakes, scones and chocolate or, for artisan bread, stop at Takaka Infusion.

Best food: Sans Souci Inn and Ratanui Lodge are both fab, and each night the meat choice changes, while Eatery on The Rock does awesome steaks.

Wet your whistle: The Mussel Inn bush cafe produces a wide range of craft beers, wine, cider and fizzy drinks, plus its wholesome food goes down a treat too.

Mussel inn in Golden Bay NZ

Best mountain biking: Rameka Track is graded 3-4, and is pretty challenging but the views are great. Or ride the Heaphy Track in winter.

Best adventures: Walk the Heaphy Track, take a tour of Farewell Spit, fish at Anatoki Salmon.

Pretty beautiful: Te Waikoropupu Springs are the largest fresh water springs in the Southern Hemisphere and have to be seen to be believed, while Golden Bay features two of the country's top five beaches - Totaranui and Farewell Spit.

Wildlife: Birds flock to Golden Bay and here, just for starters, you'll see tui, morepork, kereru and blue penguins.

Seal of approval: Nine out of 10 seals say the basking here rocks.

Water winner: Takaka has the sweetest-tasting water in New Zealand, possibly even the world, it's mind-blowingly delicious.

Visitors say: You all look so happy.

Locals say: You would too if you lived here.

- Contributed by Elisabeth Easther -

 Travel and Attractions

Perhaps one of the most famous natural sites in the area is the entrancing, ultra clear waters of the Pupu Springs. The glistening waters of the spring are actually the clearest spring waters in the world. The many beaches in Golden Bay live up to their name too, with beautiful bronze sands that lead to the deep blue of the ocean. Wharariki Beach is particularly stand out when it comes to spectacular beauty, and a must see for any visitor. The beach itself is part of a wider set of attractions and holiday park, which make for a great day out overall. Of course, as mentioned, there’s also some fantastic fishing to be found in the region too, and if you’re looking to net a few great catches to serve as a reminder of your break, then there’s the nearby Anatoki Salmon fishing experience to enjoy, and you can even cook and eat your fresh catch of salmon. There are a number of ways to reach Golden Bay and the surrounding area, with flights available from Wellington to the Takaka being the fastest option in most cases. Adventure flights are also a fantastic way to see the unique, sweeping landscape of the surrounding region. Alternatively, New Zealand in general is a popular stop over for cruises, and this can offer a great alternative way into Golden Bay as well. The added bonus of taking the trip by sea is that you can also visit a number of Australian cities on the way.

Fishing in Golden Bay

As mentioned, the nearby salmon fishing opportunities are excellent, but there’s a number of great spots for catching wild fish if you’re looking for a challenge. There are a number of spots that are suitable for beginners too, so Golden Bay can be a great place to help a friend or family member learn the basics. This is in fact another advantage of the nearby salmon fishing park - it’s a good place to learn the ropes before trying your hand at catching some fish in more challenging settings. Boat fishing is also a popular choice in the Bay too, and there’s an abundance of snapper to be found along most of the beaches in the winter months. More advanced spots can also be found, along with crayfish, butterfish, and more, along the west coast of the Bay. The waves and currents can be strong here however, so are best reserved for those experienced at sea fishing. There are also a number of charter boats and fishing trips that run in the bay area for all levels of experience. This can be a very cost effective and enjoyable way to access some of the better, or more secluded fishing spots too. Many charter companies or fishing lodges will offer plenty of equipment, rods, and bait, which can be handy if you want to avoid having to travel with all your fishing gear. Of course, if you do bring your own supplies, there are plenty of places in the local area to restock and pick up any extra pieces of kit you might need. Overall, Golden Bay offers some of the most exciting and varied fishing in the world, and there’s plenty of help on offer if it’s your first time fishing in the region. When it comes to combining an action packed, scenic escape into nature with a great selection of fishing opportunities no matter your age or skill level, then Golden Bay and the surrounding area is hard to beat - not to mention of course, that fishing will take you off the beaten track and lead to the discovery of some of the bay’s hidden gems.

- contributed by Susan Fry -


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