Golden Bay, situated in the north west of New Zealand’s South Island, is isolated from the tourist trail by the Takaka Hill – locally referred to as Marble Mountain. This is the only road route into ‘The Bay’. With only a small population, this area is one of the country’s gems – both scenically and for its accessibility to national parks (Kahurangi and Abel Tasman), yet many visitors to New Zealand miss this corner of the country due to its isolation.
Bush and Beyond offers a 5-day trip, based in the Bay, in comfortable accommodation with 5 day walks. The walks cover a variety of terrain and landscapes. The following are samples of what is available.
This walk covers both sides of the sandspit – approximately 14 kilometres in total. A meander along both the ocean side and the calmer, protected waters of Golden Bay on the inside of the Spit. The highlights are the uninterrupted sea views, the dunes and the sea birds, including the migrating species, such as the godwit.
For an extra $100, an alternative to the Farewell Spit Walk, is a tour right out to the end of the Spit with the specialist eco-guiding company ‘Farewell Spit Eco Tours’. This is a 27 kilometre ride in their specially adapted vehicles. The tour takes in all the birds, and includes a trip to the gannet colony on the tip of the Spit, if tides allow on the day. We also visit the lighthouse, and if the weather is suitable, there is an optional sand dune walk.
This beach, which is situated on the west coast, is renowned for its wild beauty – rock stacks, sand hills and pounding surf. A track continues to Green Hills with dramatic coastal views, rare plants and bird life.
We spend two nights at the Mangarakau Swamp lodge, which is run by the ‘Friends of Mangarakau Swamp Trust’ – a conservation group which protects the largest intact wetlands in Nelson. This very isolated area borders Kahurangi NP, and is steeped in human and natural history. We can spend two days exploring this area, with a variety of short walks; in the bush, on the coast, a lake, and the conservation project.
This walk is, arguably, one of New Zealand’s greatest day walks. It crosses the Whakamarama Range, from the west coast to the Aorere Valley, through a variety of flora, rocky bluffs and stunning views. This is a 9 to 10 hour walk, but sections at either end can be done as a shorter alternative.
The Aorere Valley is where the first gold rush took place in the South Island, in the 1850s. Nearby Collingwood was even briefly proposed as the capital city of the fledgling colony! Today, the goldfields embrace a network of tracks and trails through regenerating bush, with historical highlights and caves – one of which was used as a ‘ballroom’ during the days of gold mining and has begun again in recent years, as an annual event in the Bay.