Takaka there are plenty of things to do. The service hub of Golden Bay is a holiday destination where time slows down. Explore the longest sandspit in New Zealand, the arches and dunes of Wharariki beach, parts of the Abel Tasman National Park where visitors are few and far between and the intriguing town of Collingwood. Your journey to the top of the South Island starts with a drive over Takaka Hill and it’s fascinating marble landscape. The vibrant summer town is home to cafes, restaurants and two distilleries flourishing in the summer visitor season.
WHAT TO DO, HIGHLIGHTS
- Anatoki salmon and fishing cafe, catch and savour your freshly cooked fish
- Pupu hydro walking trail, heritage water race
- Te Waikoropupu (Pupu) Springs, largest NZ fresh water springs
- Rawhiti Caves (experienced walkers)
- GOLDEN BAY WHANGANUI INLET DRIVE tidal inlet with shallow blue waters
- Paynes Ford Tramline Track
- The Grove Scenic Walk
TAKAKA SHORT WALKS
PAYNES FORD SCENIC RESERVE
Sheer rock faces are challenging limestone rock climbs. Non-climbers have picnic tables, swimming holes and can watch climbersi
PAYNES FORD TRAMLINE TRACK
Follow the tramline track (closed 1905) formerly carried timber to Waitipu wharf. The track leads to popular swimming holes in the Takaka River. You will be passed by dedicated rock climbers identified by the ropes and climbing shoes.
THE GROVE SCENIC RESERVE
Limestone blocks, walking track to viewing platform and picnic tables. The walk passes towering limestone faces sculpted by water and the elements. The roots of the northern rata tree twine themselves around the rock faces dropping to the ground. It is a great fantasy world for all ages with twisted roots, mossy rock faces and sometimes narrow passageways.
Waterfalls are not usual in Golden Bay. For waterfall fans the end of summer can lead to very small flows over the bluff.
Look for the Wainui River bridge crossing signposts. The walk passes through farmland, forest of nikau palms, rata trees and ferns to a lookout point. The Reserve is the home of the giant snail, Powelliphanta.
PUPU HYDRO WALKWAY
Pupu Hydro Walkway is one of Nelson’s top ten walks. The Pupu Hydro Walkway retraces an old gold-mining water race, which has been reused for power generation. Botanically the walkway is very interesting; the vegetation varies from mixed young beech–rimu forest to mature beech–podocarp forest. The engineering marvel of the water race entirely hand cut is extraordinary.
Look at the mosses for, Dawsonia superba, is the tallest moss in the world.
Te Waikoropupū Springs
New Zealand’s largest freshwater springs and the largest coldwater springs in the southern hemisphere. Welling water, the slow eddy of water grasses, the fat long eels and the sheer volume of the springs is breathtaking. The spring water is crystal sharp and very pure. The reserve that protects gold workings, regenerating forest and a fine patch of mature bush. A platform that sits partly over the water allows visitors to get a good view of the springs. Detailed information plaques narrate legends, scientific facts and the story of the springs.
Dotted alongside roads as well as the main road into the area are studio signs. In the summer peak season look for the open / welcome banner and explore a working studio or two.
CLIFTON CEMETERY & RECREATIONAL RESERVE
The Clifton Recreation Reserve covers an impressive 45 hectares on a low-lying spit across the Motupipi Estuary, west of Pohara in Golden Bay. Part of the Reserve is a historically significant cemetery with up to 150 burials. Graves are unmarked. The oldest headstone is for Agnes Gibson who died 14 February 1866.
At the celebration of 150 years of European settlement in the Clifton-Motupipi area in 1992 a memorial was unveiled that recognises the unmarked graves in the cemetery.
Alongside the cemetery there are picnic tables and toilets.
The area is the habitat for the rare Katipo spider and a threatened species of carabid beetle and shorebirds breeding ground.
TAKAKA HILL WALKWAY
The loop walk through the sculptured limestone karst landscape and marbled rock forms is a popular walk through an intriguing landscape. Walkers are rewarded with magnificent views of the Kahurangi National Park and Takaka Valley. The walkway is well signposted the whole way around. It does not allow for fast travel; pay attention to where you place your feet, as the oddly-shaped rock formations and uneven track can easily cause falls and twisted ankles.
The village has information plaques on buildings narrating the stories of various occupants. There are street art murals on the sides of buildings with a focus on the history of the area and the local culture. Golden Bay Museum and Collingwood are home to local museums managed and operated by volunteers.
GOLDEN BAY WHANGANUI INLET
GLORIOUS ROAD TRIP ON A DEAD END ROAD
Tracing the shore, the lone road eventually meanders to an end, while Karamea on the West Coast continues to wait for the discussed connection to Nelson. Your drive around Golden Bay is through an enormous estuary. The inlet is the second-largest estuary in the South Island and as well as being a beautiful landscape it is an important fishing and wildlife area.This beautiful, unspoilt 13km long inlet traces the shore, bordered by the lush coastal forest of the Kahurangi National Park, and is the perfect location if you’re looking for a scenic seaside drive.
The first estuary in New Zealand to be protected as both a marine and wildlife reserve, it is believed that approximately 30 species of marine fish thrive in the estuary, not only for its rich food supply but also as a base for breeding. The marine reserve spans 536 hectares of tidal sand flats, whilst the wildlife reserve stretches over 2112 hectares.
NEARBY COLLINGWOOD WALKS
A perfect foil to a day at the beach, rather spend a day at a reserve with a lake inviting visitors to take a dip. Coastal hills form a dramatic backdrop to these beautiful lakes. A 10-minute walking track begins beside one lake and heads gently down to the other. There is space to picnic at the car park and further along the road next to the lake. The reserve is distinguished by its massed nīkau palms, which give the walk a tropical feel. Here and there, dense glades of young mataī, kahikatea, cedar and tānekaha indicate that the forest is recovering after past disturbance. Large, carnivorous Powelliphanta snails live in the reserve and a variety of waterfowl can be seen on the lakes. Shags, paradise ducks, Canada geese and grey ducks all find shelter there among the raupō.
- One of New Zealand’s earliest summer festivals was held in Takaka in the mid 1990’s, 31 December 1996
WHERE TO TAKE THE BEST SELFIES
- Pick your favourite street art against the toilet or side building and post
- Favourite beaches – Totaranui and Farewell Spit
- Karst limestone outcrops of Takaka Hill
WHAT TO DO WITH KIDS
- Labyrinth Rocks Park lends itself to Jurassic Park fans mixed in with a fairytale
- Farewell Spit tours
- Beaches and walks The Grove Scenic Walk among others
- Come, Stay, Play in Golden Bay.
- Mardi Gras (every two years)
- Luminate Festival now known as LUNASA
- 1,390 (2019)
- A perfect summer holiday destination for families, couples needing a break or people wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of urban life
Every town adds to the richness of things to do and see. For more details about the region check Nelson & Nelson Region nearby attractions and events.
Situated on the lower reaches of the Takaka River
The crescent shaped golden bay with its farewell spit wrap around is remote and beautiful
What do you think about “What’s so great about Takaka”?