It’s only 1 hrs drive (50km) from Kanuka Ridge Abel Tasman Backpackers through to Takaka, the largest town in Golden Bay. The road to Golden Bay climbs over the Marahau hill first, (230m) then over the Takaka hill (791m). The top of the Takaka hill will give you amazing views across Golden Bay on one side and Tasman Bay on the other side. The Takaka hill and many other areas of Golden Bay were used as locations in the making of the “Lord of the Rings” film trilogy as well as “The Hobbit”.
Ngarua Caves is a “must do” on your way to Golden bay if you have an hour spare. 1/2 hrs drive from Motueka, located up the Takaka Hill and open daily throughout summer, tours are offered hourly from 10am -4pm. ( suitable for all ages )With an extensive variety of stalagmites and stalactites, also featuring a skeletal display of the extinct Moa, it is a great experience.
Hawks Lookout is situated 600m up the Takaka hill on your left, just passed the big lime stone quarry. It’s a 10min. walk only with views over Motueka, Nelson, the bay and the valley, it is well worth a stop.
Harwood’s Hole you can visit just before you get to the top of the Takaka hill, ( past the Woolshed Canaan cafe, great for a nice cup of tea/coffee and scones and pet the farm animals ) A rough gravel for 12km (unsealed road) leads through to the Canaan Downs car park. Take a 90min. walk there and back and you can view Harewood’s Hole. This is an amazing 183m deep hole in the ground.
This is also the start point for 2 mountain bike tracks; Canaan Downs and the Rameka (see Mountain Biking / Cycling)
There are many walking opportunities in Golden Bay including Wainui Falls, The Abel Tasman Memorial (where Dutch explorer Abel Tasman came closest to the New Zealand coast), Milnthorpe Park Scenic Reserve, as well as plenty of beaches to explore.
Te Waikoropupu Springs (known locally as Pupu Springs)With a discharge of 14’000lt of water a second (40 bathtubs), and eight vents in the main pool, it’s one of the biggest, clearest fresh water spring in the world and contains some of the clearest and purest water ever measured. It is located just outside the township of Takaka, on your left past the Takaka river.
Collingwood, a small town in Golden Bay, is the start point for tramping trips like the Heaphy Track and tours out to Farewell Spit. Farewell Spit is New Zealand’s longest sand spit, stretching 35km and made up of shifting sand dunes up to 20m high. Farewell Spit is a Nature Reserve and access is restricted. You are able to walk out 2.5km along the spit from Puponga, the base of the spit. To go beyond this point, a guided tour can take you up to the lighthouse all the way to the end of the spit. An amazing experience, note that departure times are dictated by the tides.