Drive over Takaka Hill and discover another world. Golden Bay is a vast paradise for nature lovers.
Before you lay eyes on Golden Bay, you'll enjoy an amazingly scenic road journey. The long, slow climb over Takaka Hill, known as 'marble mountain', is the first challenge. 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 Waikoropupu Springs (also known as Pupu Springs) is on the other side of the hill, near the town of Takaka. The springs are a 'wahi tapu' - sacred place - to the local Maori tribe. You can take a 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 that wraps itself around the upper reaches of the bay. The sandspit is a bird sanctuary - too long to walk, so you might want to catch a guided 4WD safari to see the lighthouse and birds.
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 ultimate Wharariki experience is a horse trek.