The beholder of many family traditions and memories, Golden Bay is the perfect destination for a holiday with loved ones. And once you’ve visited, you’ll understand why locals and out-of-towners keep returning here year after year.
Bring in day one of your trip with a scenic journey over the Takaka Hill, also known as ‘marble mountain’. As you reach the top of the hill, the Ngarua Caves provide welcome relief from a car ride with the little ones. The entrance to the caves sits proudly atop the hill, and as your tour guide welcomes you in, a whimsical world is revealed right before your eyes. Having developed over millions of years, the cave is filled to the brim with gigantic stalactites and stalagmites, adorning the interior like shark teeth.
Descending the Takaka Hill, your next stop is Te Waikoropupu Springs. A short walk through manuka and kanuka forest will land you at the largest freshwater springs in the southern hemisphere, with water so clear its almost impossible not to see the eels and fish darting around under the surface. The Mussel Inn, a quirky live music venue known for their artisan beers, ciders and soft drinks, is the perfect place for an early dinner, before continuing north to your accommodation.
Waking up at the Wharariki Holiday Park or nearby Zatori Retreat, you’re right on the doorstep of today’s adventures. A short walk through coastal farmland toward the wonderful, windswept Wharariki Beach will provide spectacular views of the rugged coastline and towering arches, whilst the kids will have endless hours of fun rolling down the sand dunes and playing in the rock pools. Nearby, even more excitement awaits, as you spend the afternoon riding horseback through the native forest canopy or along Puponga beach, discovering some of the iconic landmarks that featured in Peter Jackson’s famous movies.
The next morning, the whole family will hop aboard a tour bus to travel the length of Farewell Spit. A whopping 35km long, the spit is one of the largest in the world and is home to an endless array of wildlife guaranteed to mesmerise the little ones, from the colony of gannets to fur seal pups and cheeky oyster-catchers. You’ll want to spend the rest of the day relaxing at one of the nearby beaches, because running along the sand dunes which tower over the spit is by no means an easy feat.
As day four dawns, you’ll set out on kayaks from Tata Beach, known for its golden sands and the picturesque islands that lay just off the coast. The islands are home to the country’s largest colony of spotted shags and a playful local seal community, and if you’re lucky you may even get to spot a penguin or two. Your tour guide will have you paddling through the Tata archway, welcoming you into the picturesque Wainui Bay at the head of the Abel Tasman National Park. Upon your return, spend the afternoon relaxing at Tata Beach, or travel a short distance down the road to visit Wainui Falls. The falls are a short one-hour return walk along the banks of the Wainui River, and children will love the swing bridges and wildlife they’ll spot along the way.
An overnight stay at Golden Bay Hideaway offers a quirky building design with rooms at all different levels, and is the perfect launching pad for the adventures the next day will bring.
Labyrinth Rocks Park is guaranteed to burn some energy before the drive back over the Takaka Hill. A fascinating short walk amongst limestone outcrops, kids will find thrill in discovering small figurines veiled under fallen leaves, and spotting the faces which have been etched into the rocks. Then, the last stop on your Golden Bay trip will have you casting your line into the river at the Anatoki Salmon Farm, reminiscing on your extraordinary family holiday. Watch as the fish dart around under the surface, taking cautious nibbles on your line, then choose a picnic spot on the riverbank to tuck into your fresh catch.
See below for the list of operators featuring in this itinerary ↓