Before you lay eyes on Golden Bay, you'll enjoy an amazingly scenic road journey over the Takaka Hill, known also as 'marble mountain'. There are signposted lookouts along the way and the subterranean marvels of Harwoods Hole (176 metres deep) and the Ngarua Caves shouldn't be missed.
Te Waikoropupū Springs (also known as Pupu Springs) are the largest freshwater springs in New Zealand and the largest coldwater springs in the southern hemisphere, with a clarity rating of 75m, meaning they also contain some of the clearest water ever measured. The springs are located on the other side of the hill, near the town of Takaka, and are a 'wahi tapu' - sacred place - to the local Maori tribe. You can take a leisurely stroll around the walkways and read the interpretive panels along the way.
As the road leads west, fabulous views of Golden Bay will keep you entertained. The huge, sandy bay is famous for its scallops. Collingwood is the final settlement of any size before Farewell Spit, a lengthy sandspit at 34km long, that wraps itself around the upper reaches of the bay. The sandspit is a bird sanctuary and wetland of international importance, and is very highly protected. The only way to explore the spit is with Farewell Spit Eco Tours, who can take you on an unforgettable journey to the historic lighthouse, gannet colony and to the northernmost point of the South Island, Cape Farewell.
On the Tasman Sea side of Cape Farewell is Wharariki Beach - a wild, beautiful place where wind and waves have created massive rock and sand dune formations. The currents are dangerous so swimming is not recommended, so the ultimate Wharariki experience is undoubtedly a horse trek, although many also choose to take a short 20 minute stroll down to the beach to capture the extraordinary rock formations on camera.
A few days in Golden Bay are simply not enough, and we recommend you take time to immerse yourself in everything there is to offer. There are plenty of local craft stores and artisan fare, waterfalls and nature walks, Lord of the Rings film locations, and if you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can even catch your own dinner at Anatoki Salmon.