Golden BaySouth Island
Land at the end of the world, Golden Bay is one of those regions with innumerable attractions, but still very little visited by tourists. Compared to its neighbour Abel Tasman National Park, which attracts hundreds of thousands of travellers each year (while being the smallest national park in NZ), Golden Bay is too often forgotten, and that is a shame.
Takaka is an ideal spot to go and explore the region. This charming little village is home to a close-knit community of farmers, artists, and other neo-rural people who have chosen an alternative lifestyle. There, you will find delicious dining options and several local craft shops.
Few travellers know, but from there you can explore the northern part of Abel Tasman Park, which is significantly less crowded and just as beautiful. By taking a boat from Tōtaranui, you will reach the gorgeous Awaroa Bay, considered the most beautiful part of the park, before retracing your steps along the trail. This is a great way to avoid the crowds and shortage of accommodation that hits Kaiteriteri and Marahau during the high season, while staying in an area full of authenticity. From Tōtaranui, you will find other paths to go north and enjoy some exceptional views over the Tasman Bay.
If you are a kayak enthusiast, from Tata Beach you can go for a very nice half-day excursion in a part that remains very confidential, avoiding by the same occasion the hundreds of tourists in the south of the park.
At the northwest end, you will reach Cape Farewell and Farewell Spit, an impressive 25 km-long sand spit housing a bird sanctuary. Farewell Spit is the most protected place in New Zealand, and for this reason, only its first 4 km are freely accessible. Beyond this point, strictly no one is authorised except one company which is actively involved in this unique place’s preservation. This company offers a fabulous excursion which will lead you through this perfectly untouched environment, and up to its furthest point where a lighthouse proudly stands. Being the only ones to cross the sand spit, you will experience an incomparable feeling of being alone at end of the world! This excursion, far away from the beaten tracks, is a timeless stop, and also the opportunity to observe some wildlife such as birds or fur seals. Not far away, a path will take you to the gorgeous Wharariki Beach, with its spectacular rock formations, it is often considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the country.
Golden Bay is also the birthplace of Kahurangi National Park, offering many hiking trails including the famous Heaphy Track. Further south, near Takaka, you can admire the Te Waikoropupū Springs, better known as Pupu Springs. These are considered to be the cleanest and purest in the world.
Finally, you cannot leave Golden Bay without experiencing the unique atmosphere of the Mussel Inn in Onekaka. This restaurant is a local institution, and brews its own beer. Its reputation does not stop in Golden Bay and this place is well known across the country. It is even a must stop for local and international music groups on tour across the country. If you are lucky enough to be there on a concert night, you will definitely not forget this moment!
Golden Bay offers the promise of a unique off-the-beaten-track experience, made up of unspoiled landscapes, but also authentic human connection, should you agree to drive a few additional kilometres to reach this beautiful isolated region.
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