Golden Bay is one of those destinations that we really wanted to visit and we were surprised to find out that not many tour operators make it over there. Whether that be because of the Takaka Hill to drive over, or the fact that it is one way in and one way out, or if Golden Bay is just that little bit too far off the tourist route, we're not sure, but what we are sure about is that we are definitely including it on the ZigZag itinerary! It’s a must do!
Driving over Takaka Hill, also known as ‘Marble Mountain’ due to the large amounts of marble found throughout this area, we enjoyed a very scenic journey. Unbeknown to us we were traveling over several cave systems, some 180m deep! We made a stop at Ngarua Caves to go and explore one of these magnificent underground tunnel systems. We donned a hard hat and were guided through the caves marveling at the millions of year old stalagmites and stalactites amongst the cathedral like settings. There were even bones of oldMoa that had mistakenly fallen down one of the many holes that litter the surface of these hills where they then died.
The town of Takaka itself, has a relaxed ‘bohemian vibe’ where we stopped for an ice cream.
Te Waikoropupu Springs (known as Pupu Springs) was also a pleasant stop off. They are a ‘wahi tapu’ - a sacred place to the localMaori tribe. Pupu Springs are the largest natural springs in New Zealand and the largest cold water springs in the southern hemisphere. They contain some of the clearest water ever measured! We took the leisurely stroll around the walkway and felt very privileged to be there and witness them ourselves.
Ending up in Collingwood for our camp that night we were rewarded with the most beautiful sunset. The camp itself lies right on theWestern shore of Golden Bay at the mouth of the Aorere River.
At the northernmost point of the South Island lies Wharaiki Beach with it’s caves, rocks and arches, secluded coves and sand dunes and that feel of being somewhere wild, rugged and remote. We walked an easy 20 mins over farmland and forest which slowly turned to windswept sand dunes and then a wide expanse of golden sands. ‘They’ say it’s a screen saver classic and one of the most photographed beaches in NZ...and we tend to agree!
Lastly, big ups to the peacocks at Wharariki Beach camp for helping us put up our tent!
CHECK OUT OUR HIGHLIGHTS FROM OUR ADVENTURE FROM GOLDEN BAY TO FAREWELL SPIT IN THE VIDEO BELOW!