Family Activities in Takaka and Golden Bay
Escape the tourist trail, over the karst-scattered landscape of Takaka Hill, to the bohemian town of Takaka and the surrounding Golden Bay area. As the name suggests, you’re met with golden sands at the northern entrance to the Abel Tasman National Park, while a bunch of surprises like limestone labyrinths and caves await adventurous families. The natural free attractions are the main drawcard of Golden Bay for families, but a special trip to Farewell Spit, horse trekking or reeling in salmon at Anatoki Salmon add wonderful experiences to the family itinerary.
1. Roam Around Labyrinth Rocks
Fun, free and taking as little or as long as you like (providing you can remember how to get out), Labyrinth Rocks should be on the itinerary of every family visiting Golden Bay. Venture through the limestone maze-like pathways where toys of witches, goblins and other fairytale creatures watch your every move. Squeeze through narrow rocky corridors covered in moss and shimmy by gentle waterfalls and over stepping stones in this natural free attraction that is sure to get the imaginations of the little ones running. Check out more places like this in the 19 Epic Natural Attractions in Golden Bay.
Location: 45 Scott Road, approximately 3km (2 miles) from Takaka town centre.
2. Check Out the Clear Waters of Te Waikoropupu Springs
Another free highlight of Takaka is the crystal clear pools of Te Waikoropupu Springs, also known as “Pupu Springs” for short. With a stroller-friendly 45-minute loop walk, this walk around the largest cold water spring in the Southern Hemisphere is a fantastic activity in Takaka for families. Teach the kids about the Maori legend behind the springs, as referenced at the entrance’s information panels, before delving down into the forest to admire the pools.
Location: Pupu Springs Road, approximately 6km (4 miles) from Takaka town centre.
3. Trek to Wainui Falls
Let’s give you another free family-friendly attraction in Takaka and Golden Bay: Wainui Falls! This short walk not only features the stunning coastal forest of the Abel Tasman National Park, but an impressive view of a 20m (66ft) waterfall. The walk takes approximately 1h20mins to complete the return journey and has a long swingbridge that tends to be more of a highlight for kids!
Location: 29 Wainui Falls Road, Tata Beach, approximately 20km (12 miles) from Takaka town centre.
4. Take a Tour of Farewell Spit
While you can see many amazing landscapes on your own, the iconic Farewell Spit, the longest sandspit in New Zealand, makes for a superb tour for families. Farewell Spit Tours is the only operator permitted to show you this magnificent stretch of sand and its ecosystem, which is more protected than a national park. As long as you kids can stay engaged for a 6h30mins tour, your family is sure to have an unforgettable journey. Travel by bus across the sandspit and jump out to climb massive sand dunes, see seal pups frolicking, bird colonies and the loneliest lighthouse in New Zealand.
Location: 6 Tasman Street, Collingwood, approximately 26km (16 miles) from Takaka town centre.
5. Do the Ngarua Cave Tour
On your way in or out of Takaka, don’t miss Ngarua Cave on top of Takaka Hill! This family-friendly cave tour takes you and the little ones on a journey through a plethora of stalactites and stalagmites protruding from the cavern. After the 45-minute tour, relax with a hot drink, bring a picnic and enjoy the amazing views of the karst limestone landscape that featured in The Lord of the Rings movies.
Location: 1242 State Highway 60 (Takaka Hill Highway), approximately 38km (24 miles) from Takaka town centre.
6. Ride a Horse on the Beach
Wedged between the famous Wharariki Beach and Cape Farewell, Cape Farewell Treks offers exciting horse riding experiences suitable for families. Their Puponga Beach horse trek for ages four years and above takes your family onto a breathtaking tidal beach with interesting historical sights and often the chance to see seals. Alternatively, families with teens aged 13 years and above might like the Old Man Range trek offering world-class views of Farewell Spit and occasionally the sight of whales.
Location: 23 McGowan Street, Puponga, approximately 49km (30 miles) from Takaka town centre.
7. Try Out Fishing at Anatoki Salmon
Want to take your kids fishing but don’t want the usual hassle associated with it? Grab all the gear you need at the entrance of Anatoki Salmon and find a spot around the lake to try your luck! Enjoy fishing for chinook salmon in an environment usually shared by wood pigeons and other native birds. After you’ve reeled in your catch, take it to the cafe where they’ll prepare the salmon either smoked or fresh.
Location: 230 McCallum Road, approximately 8km (5 miles) from Takaka town centre.
8. Build Sandcastles at Tata Beach
Craving some beach time? One of the most beautiful beaches in Golden Bay, and in New Zealand for that matter, Tata Beach is well worth the visit. After an exciting drive along Abel Tasman Drive through a coastal archway and alongside picturesque bays, you’ll arrive at this striking golden-sand beach with turquoise waters and verdant bush-clad cliffs. Go for a paddle, build sandcastles, check out the driftwood huts, or even go on the Family Focus Guided Tour with Golden Bay Kayaks to explore the Abel Tasman National Park.
Location: Abel Tasman Drive, approximately 12km (7 miles) from Takaka town centre.
9. Relax in the Family-friendly Cafes and Restaurants
Finally, whether you’re looking to treat the family to dinner or need a wet weather alternative, these family-friendly restaurants in Golden Bay are sure to do the trick. An icon of the Golden Bay area, Mussel Inn is a kid-friendly restaurant with a casual atmosphere and produces all of its own beers, ales, ciders, soft drinks and occasional house wines. The Brigand, open for lunch and dinner, is a family favourite in Takaka town serving sandwiches, fish of the day, steaks, ribs, salads and more. Finally, on your way in or out of Takaka, make a stop at The Woolshed Cafe on the top of Takaka Hill. Literally inside a renovated woolshed, the cafe serves all the usual suspects, as well as real-fruit ice cream. For more restaurant recommendations, check out The Foodie Guide to Takaka.
Location: Mussel Inn – 1259 State Highway 60, Onekaka, approximately 14km (9 miles) from Takaka town centre. The Brigand – 90 Commercial Street. Woolshed – Canaan Road, Takaka Hill, approximately 37km (23 miles) from Takaka town centre.