What to Do in Collingwood, Golden Bay’s Cool Little Town
For those exploring the top of the South Island and the fascinating Farewell Spit, or setting off on the four-day journey of the Heaphy Track, you’ll definitely not want to miss the little town of Collingwood. Collingwood not only makes a great base for exploring the Kahurangi National Park or the stunning Golden Bay coastline, but the town itself has some excellent cafes, museums and tours. Find out what you could be getting up to with this list of things to do in Collingwood.
While you’re here, you might also be interested in the 10 Golden Bay Must-Dos and 19 Epic Natural Attractions in Golden Bay.
1. Check Out Wharariki Beach & Farewell Spit
Collingwood is a great base to explore the top of the South Island, Farewell Spit, Cape Farewell and Wharariki Beach. There are a number of walking trails in the area to enjoy these natural attractions. Find out more in the 7 Best Walks at Farewell Spit.
Location: Wharariki Road, 26km (16 miles) north of Collingwood
2. Visit the Local Museums
Culture yourself a little, or avoid rainy days, by checking out the local museums. You actually have a choice in Collingwood! Visit the Aorere Museum for stories of the early Maori arrivals to European settlement. The Collingwood Museum itself is a relic situated in the 1910 council office. Or take the short drive to Rockville to visit the Golden Bay Machinery & Settlers Museum with working steam section.
Location: Aorere Centre – 2 Tasman Street, Collingwood Museum – Tasman Street, Golden Bay Machinery Museum, 869 Collingwood-Bainham Road.
3. Stop By the Estuary Art Gallery
Retreat to this peaceful sanctuary overlooking the Parapara Estuary and discover beautiful pieces at the Estuary Art Gallery. Pop in to see art many forms, from fused glass to acrylics on canvas – all inspired by the local area. The art gallery is open October to mid-April, Wednesday to Sunday.
Location: State Highway 60, Parapara, 6km (4 miles) south of Collingwood.
4. Hike the Heaphy Track
Yes, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks starts just a short drive from Collingwood. The Heaphy Track is the longest of the Great Walks, taking four days to complete. Follow the trail into the ancient forest, alpine tussock lands and the river valleys of the Kahurangi National Park before emerging along the rugged coastline of the wild West Coast ending just north of Karamea. Find out what to do on the other side of the Heaphy Track with our 7 Amazing Things to Do in Karamea.
Location: Aorere Valley Road, 28km (17 miles) from Collingwood.
5. Pop into the Local Cafes & Pubs
A good excuse to stop by the town is its array of cosy cafes. The Courthouse Cafe is extremely popular, situated in an old court building built in 1903. Soak in the views from the Farewell Spit Cafe or from the beer garden at the Collingwood Tavern. Travel south to Onekaka to try craft beers at the Mussel Inn. And the list goes on! Learn more in The Foodie Guide to Takaka.
Location: In and around Collingwood.
6. Take a Bus Tour Down Farewell Spit
The only way to access Farwell Spit beyond the hiking trails is with Farewell Spit Eco Tours. Tours depart from Collingwood a couple of hours before low tide, taking you onto New Zealand’s most protected area. See the Farewell Spit Lighthouse, climb the ever-changing sand dunes and see the seabirds and seals that call this important wetland area home.
Location: 6 Tasman Street.
7. Hike Around the Aorere Caves & Goldfields
For those looking to get out there and explore, travel down the Aorere Valley and hike around the Aorere Goldfields. This 3-hour loop walk passes old gold mining remnants of a ground sluicing claim worked on in the 1880s. There are also short side tracks to Stafford’s Cave and the Ballroom Cave.
Location: Devils Boot Road, 11km (7 miles) south of Collingwood.
8. Walk the Kaituna Forks Walkway
A great day out in the Kahurangi National Park awaits on the Kaituna Forks Walkway. Either walk to the site of some old gold workings, taking around 20 minutes one way or walk 1 hour to Kaituna Forks where the river splits. From there, you can walk on a marked route for a further 5-6 hours to Knuckle Hill – note that there is a river crossing on this route which is unsafe to cross after heavy rain.
Location: Carters Road, 15km (9 miles) south of Collingwood.
More Things to Do Near Collingwood
That’s it for the best things to do in Collingwood. Find more activities for your travels in the 51 Best Things to Do in the South Island.