A closer look to Golden Bay: Drifting to one of New Zealand’s perfect holiday spot
The sun is yet to peak at the horizon, but there’s already a murmur of activity as the lazy morning comes knocking in the form of delish breakfast and popping of joints.
And as the sun travels on its constant rhythm across the sky, so does the holiday-goers going from one destination to the next.
From enjoying the water through swimming and water sports to an adventure walk and horse ride and to everything else in between, there is always something for everyone.
Perhaps Golden Bay is not anymore New Zealand’s kept secret and not as remote as we would like it to be. Yet Golden Bay’s magic and charm are yet to fade and there’s a high possibility it wouldn’t be.
Golden Bay is located at the tip of South Island particularly on its northwestern part. Golden Bay is above Nelson and bounded by two of the region’s national park: Kahurangi National Park and Abel Tasman National Park. On the northern region of Golden Bay is Farewell Spit a long, thin coast separating the place from the sea.
Golden Bay is no doubt a popular place for international visitors as well as for the locals. During summer, its peak season, hundred thousands of tourists descend upon the area as well as during the school holidays, so the crowd is really massive.
For a more blissful visit to Golden Bay traveling at an off-season would be best. You can have the area to yourself and some of the few. February, the end of summer season is a good time to go as well as during autumn (March – May) and start of spring (September – November). Autumn is slightly cooler from summer and spring has an erratic behavior, yet it is still worth a chance.
Being located at the tip of South Island, Golden Bay is one of the sunniest places in New Zealand, so visitors of the off-season would still be able to enjoy long daylights.
Visitors going to Golden Bay often comes from Nelson where their accommodations are located meaning Golden Bay is only a part of their itinerary. From Nelson, you have to make the slow and the long climb over Takaka Hill or more popularly known as the “Marble Mountain.” the drive will take four to five hours.
It is also the same if you take Queen Charlotte Sounds if you came from Picton in which tourists are dropped off there through ferries. If you’re from Christchurch, you have to take the Lewis Pass, Murchison, Nelson and Highway 60, where it will also lead you through the scenic drive of Takaka Hill. The drive will take around seven hours.
Adventure along the road
While it was already established that the slow climb to Takaka Hill is already a delight in itself due to the scenic view of the mountain, another gemstone of this journey Te Waikoropupu Springs.
Four kilometers northwest of SH60 lie the largest freshwater spring in the country. Also known as “Pupu Spring,” it vents a rough estimate of 14,000 liters per second disturbing the sand and making them seem like dancing together with the flora thriving in the place.
The Maori tribes, which are the naives of the place, considers the springs a sacred place.
Another delight for the journey to Golden Bay is the Ngarua Cave. The caves are gorged out massive spaces of karst from Takaka Hill and features Moa bones as well as other subterranean marvels. However, access is limited to guided tours.
Before you reach Farewell Spit, the journey would not be complete without stopping at Mussel Inn. It is a popular pub between Takaka and Collingwood where you will experience New Zealand at its finest and most genuine sight.
The pub is a cosy, creaking-timber place where there is lively music, brown beer brewed with manuka, and a delicious homemade food.
Farewell Spit is a whole new adventure. It is along sandy beach wrapping around Golden Bay and separating it from the sea. It is a long walk to the lighthouse where you will see multitudes of birds, as the place is a famed bird sanctuary.
Apart from bird watching, you can also ride on a shaggy Icelandic horse and observe the scenery of almost desolate ocean and dramatic landscape Farewell Spit.
Some horse trekking activities are en route to Wharariki beach and vice versa in which it takes around three hours of horseback riding.
The place in which it takes place is called Cape Farewell. There are also some trips that take overnight, depending on the prior agreements.
Wharariki Beach is popular for its seal colony. They are located in the eastern part of the area, particularly in Cape Farewell where there are also rock pools.
Due to the continuous crashing of waves to rocks and sand, massive dunes are formed on the coast of Wharariki.
The best time to visit the beach would be on a low tide where you can go as far as the massive rock formations and have a blissful walk along its coastline.
Things to see and do in Golden Bay | Nelson, New Zealand
Mary Grace Valdez