Golden Bay is a district in the Tasman Region which is situated in the north-western corner of the South Island of New Zealand. Located about 65 km from Nelson on the only road to the area, State Highway 60, over the Takaka Hill (790 m). Golden Bay is a coastal area bordered by the ranges of Kahurangi National Park and Abel Tasman National Park. Golden Bay is at the edge of the junction between the Tasman Sea and Cook Strait. It stretches for 45 kilometres from the 40 km long sand spit of Farewell Spit in the north to Separation Point in The Abel Tasman National Park.
Dutch explorer Abel Tasman anchored in Golden Bay in 1642, with his ships Heemskerck and Zeehaen. Here one of his boats was attacked by some local Maori in war canoes, four of his men were killed, which caused him to bestow upon it the name Murderers Bay. English explorer James Cook renamed it Golden Bay during his voyage of discovery in 1769.
Today Golden Bay is famous for its natural beauty, recreational opportunities and festive culture. Golden Bay is also popular for its remoteness and its internationally renowned conservation areas, such as Kahurangi National Park, The Abel Tasman National Park, Farewell Spit and Te Waikoropupu Springs. The Takaka River and the Aorere River are the two main watercourses in the valley that reach the sea at Golden Bay.
The forest ranges, rivers, plains and beaches of Golden Bay create many microclimates offering perfect conditions for agriculture and horticulture. Today, the Bay's main industries are dairy farming, arts and crafts, and tourism
Takaka is the main business and shopping town for the Golden Bay district. It is located in the lower reaches of the Takaka River Valley at the southern end of the bay. Takaka is a lively little Hippy town with plenty of arts and crafts shops, laid-back cafes and dreadlocked, tie-dyed, barefooted characters still on their way home from Woodstock wandering the streets.
Collingwood is Golden bay’s second biggest town and was once proposed to be New Zealand’s capital. Today it is a service village for the surrounding farming community and a destination for tourists. The 82 km Heaphy Track starts in Collingwood heading through remote native forest to the West Coast. Collingwood is also the gateway to the Farewell Spit.
Other places of interest in the area are the Ngarua Caves and Harwood’s Hole on the Takaka Hill. Just outside Takaka is the sacred Te Waikoropupu (Pupu) Springs, which is the largest natural spring in the country. You can access the magnificent Kahurangi National Park from Collingwood or the Cobb Valley, south of Takaka, or try one of the short walks at Wainui Falls, the Grove or Payne’s Ford. Go mountain biking on the Rameka Track, kayak on the Aorere River. Take a 4WD tour to Farewell Spit, it’s a natural wonderland. Museums in Takaka, Collingwood and Rockville trace the history of this area.
Don’t forget this is the place for relaxed beach time. The picturesque golden sands that gave the district its name, stretches for 45 km. These calm crystal clear waters are perfectly safe for swimming and are a great place to bring the whole family.
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