A Travel Guide to Takaka and Golden Bay
Most tourists simply don’t bother venturing this far north in the South Island. That is, however, what makes the region of Takaka and Golden Bay so utterly blissful and all the more surprising for those who do.
After a scenic journey over the bay’s only access road on the craggy limestone mountaintops of “Takaka Hill”, you’ll arrive in a town of free spirits, bohemians and ageing hippies. With that, visitors often find themselves welcomed as part of the community. Creativity is encouraged here, with interesting artisanry and art experiences. But that famous New Zealand scenery, that keeps on amazing and astounding, is certainly the aspect of Golden Bay that takes the limelight.
In the north of the bay, you’ll find New Zealand’s longest sand spit, Farewell Spit, nearby what is often ranked as one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, Warariki Beach. To the west, say hello to the Heaphy Track and the wilderness area of the Kahurangi National Park, while the east is the quieter side of the Abel Tasman National Park. There’s an air of whimsy in the bay too, from the vibrant cartoon colours of Te Waikoropupu Springs to the moss-covered limestone corridors of Labyrinth Rocks and The Grove.
Needless to say, whatever your travel style, you’re bound to have a memorable time in Golden Bay, which we’ll help you organise with this complete travel guide to Takaka.
Fast Facts About Takaka and Golden Bay
Location: In the northwest of South Island in the Nelson Tasman region.
Climate: Daily average temperature – 12.8°C/55.1°F, yearly average rainfall – 2,019mm/79.5″
Find out more in What is the Weather Like in New Zealand?
Time zone: NZST / GMT+12/+13
How to get to Takaka: Takaka is connected to the rest of the South Island by one road only, State Highway 60 over Takaka Hill. The closest international airport in terms of travel time is Christchurch Airport (6 hours drive), but domestic flights to Takaka Airport are available from Wellington and Nelson. Takaka is on the main national bus route, which you can find more information about in Bus Networks in New Zealand.
Takaka for Budget Travellers
Don’t worry about the tourist hype in this small hippy town in Golden Bay. Takaka is a welcoming place where it’s easy to find accommodations that charge fair prices, as well as tours that certainly won’t send you over budget. What’s more, most of the attractions here are free to visit – and there’s a lot of them! Between hiking to a limestone cave, delving through the limestone mazes of The Grove, seeing clear coldwater springs and strolling on some of the country’s most striking beaches, all you’ll need is money for fuel. Find out more in The Guide to Takaka on a Budget.
Budget Activities in Takaka
- Check out the clear pools of Te Waikoropupu Springs
- Take a trip to Wharariki Beach
- Browse the local art galleries
- Tour the Ngarua Cave
- Hike to Rawhiti Cave
For more details on these activities and more, check out the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Takaka.
Budget Accommodation in Takaka
Homely backpacker hostels, convenient self-contained motel units and apartments, holiday parks and B&Bs, Takaka and Golden Bay offer an array of budget accommodations to keep the cost of your stay to a minimum. Check out our favourites in the 10 Best Budget Accommodation in Takaka.
Takaka for Luxury Travellers
Most international visitors haven’t even heard of Takaka, which is arguably one of the most luxurious things about it. The gorgeous landscapes and idyllic position between the Kahurangi and Abel Tasman National Parks are also what make Takaka for a unique choice for a luxury trip. Whether you seek active adventures or a creative getaway with an art workshop, Golden Bay offers a well-balanced escape. Learn more in The Luxury Guide to Takaka.
Luxury Activities in Takaka
- Take a scenic flight over Golden Bay and Abel Tasman
- Indulge in a spa day
- Ride across one of the world’s most beautiful beaches on horseback
- Take part in a farm tour, eco tour, fishing and more at Westhaven Lodge
- Tour Farewell Spit – one of the most protected places in New Zealand.
For additional details on each experience and others, dive into the 8 Luxury Activities in Takaka.
Luxury Accommodation in Takaka
Takaka’s luxury accommodation might be limited but they offer some of the most serene experiences, with the most lavish being based on its own private peninsula! Check out the best in the 5 Best Luxury Accommodation in Takaka.
Takaka for Families
Fun and affordable, a family trip to Takaka and Golden Bay is well worth considering for the adventurous family that craves to get off the tourist trail. Many of the natural attractions, like springs and limestone formations, can be accessed on short family-friendly walks, while cave tours, horse treks and/or Farewell Spit tours won’t be too rough on the budget. With unique ecosystems on Farewell Spit and the Abel Tasman National Park, Golden Bay is an excellent place to educate the little ones about nature. Plan your family getaway with The Guide to Takaka for Families.
Family-friendly Activities in Takaka
- Roam around Labyrinth Rocks
- Trek to Wainui Falls
- Ride across Wharanaki Beach on a horse trek
- Try out fishing at Anatoki Salmon
- Build sandcastles at Tata Beach.
For more details and locations of each experience, see the 9 Things to Do in Takaka with Kids.
Family Accommodation in Takaka
Families will find convenient yet down-to-earth motels and holiday parks that equipped with all the essentials. If you’re looking for a more unique stay, however, glamping and staying in timber chalets are also an option. Find out more in the 10 Best Family Accommodation in Takaka.
Takaka for Couples
Gorgeous beach views, romantic stays and well-and-truly off the beaten track, Takaka is a no-brainer for couples looking to retreat to a quiet corner of New Zealand. From coupling-up adventures like double sea kayaking to gorgeous walks that you can enjoy just the two of you, there are many amazing yet intimate ways to experience Golden Bay. What’s more, the accommodation is often effortlessly romantic, whether you opt for a budget B&B with spa facilities or go for something more lavish like a luxury lodge. Plan your romantic getaway or honeymoon with The Honeymoon Guide to Takaka.
Romantic Activities in Takaka
- Team up in a double kayak and explore the quiet side of the Abel Tasman National Park
- Tackle a waterfall walk or Great Walk together
- Ride on horseback across beautiful beaches
- Go for a romantic stroll on New Zealand’s most beautiful beaches
- Indulge in a box of chocolates at Takaka’s artisan chocolatier.
For more information on each activity and others, see the 10 Romantic Activities in Takaka for Couples.
Romantic Accommodation in Takaka
No matter your budget or style, you’ll find a romantic stay to suit. Stay in eco-friendly cottages to cosy B&Bs where ocean views and gorgeous gardens are almost always on the cards. Check out some options in the 10 Best Romantic Accommodation in Takaka.
Takaka for Foodies
Takaka is certainly a hidden gem when it comes to foodie experiences in New Zealand. While it might be one of the few areas of the country without vineyards, it does produce its own liquors with two distilleries in Golden Bay! It’s also home to an award-winning brewery, as well as artisans where their goods can be experienced from local shops and cafes to the weekly Village Market. Find out how to make your visit to Golden Bay a foodie one with The Foodie Guide to Takaka.
Food Tours and Activities in Takaka
- Take a tour of Dancing Sands Distillery (see more on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Check out the Village Market
- Dine on your fresh catch at Anatoki Salmon
- Indulge in artisan chocolates at Choco Loco
- Try award-winning craft beer at Mussel Inn.
For more details on each experience, see the 7 Things to Do in Takaka for Foodies.
Foodie Accommodation in Takaka
Whether you prefer to stay in a lodge with a restaurant, want to wake up to indulgent breakfasts, or spruce up your own creations with supplies from the local market, Takaka offers a range of accommodations for foodies. Check them out in the 10 Best Accommodation in Takaka for Foodies.