Golden Bay is nestled into the South Island’s north-west corner. A chain of steep and rugged mountains cuts its fertile river plains and valleys from the rest of the island.
The Bay’s wonderful outdoor environment attracts regular summer holiday makers year after year, but an increasing number of visitors are discovering that the area can be enjoyed all year round. Most of the time here it is sunny, warm, calm and quiet (except for the birds twittering!).
In this hidden corner of New Zealand are the Kahurangi and Abel Tasman National Parks as well as the famous Farewell Spit and Waikoropupu (Pupu) Springs. From Pohara in the east to Puponga in the west, there is a string of safe, shallow, fine sand beaches. To the west, Wharariki is one of Golden Bay’s gems – huge sand dunes, islands, caves and wild water.
Attractions and dining locations close by
Twin Waters is a good base for all activities in the Golden Bay area. The list below is an overview. We are happy to provide literature that goes into more detail.
The Aorere Valley was once a famous gold panning area. Now it is important for its tourist attractions, and as the way to the end of the Heaphy Track. Attractions worthy of note include the Devil’s Boots rock formations, the Te Anaroa Caves, the Bainham General Store and Post Office (run by the Langford family since 1928, a store as it was in the “old days”), the Aorere Goldfields and the Naked Possum Restaurant.
From the Naked Possum, the Kaituna Track is a day’s hike to the Whanganui Inlet, or a walk to the Kaituna Forks takes 1.5 hours.
Cape Farewell is the northernmost point of the South Island of New Zealand. It can be viewed from a DOC platform, which is a short walk from the road. Cape Farewell Horse Treks offer short, long and overnight treks amongst fantastic scenery. Bach available. Ph 524 8031. www.horsetreksnz.com
Collingwood was once suggested as the capital of New Zealand. It was home to NZ’s first gold rush, when gold was found in the Aorere River in the 1850’s (gold can still be panned for in the Aorere today). It developed as a dairying centre and a fishing port, but centralisation in recent years means industry has left, and it is now an historic tourist town. The museum is worth a visit.
Farewell Spit is a sand spit more than 20 km long. All but the 3km at the base of the Spit is a Department of Conservation Protected Area and only accessible to the public through licensed operators (Farewell Spit Eco Tours and Kahurangi Nature Experiences). A trip on the Spit will reveal a wide range of bird life, giant sand dunes, and the tiny settlement that housed the lighthouse keepers until the installation of an automatic light. There is a gannet colony right at the end of the Spit.
Farewell Spit DOC Centre and the Paddle crab Restaurant are located at the base of Farewell Spit, just 15km from Twin Waters. From there is a range of walks that can be done on the base of Farewell Spit, or back to Pillar Point, Cape Farewell and Wharariki Beach. Pillar point is a 30 minute walk / climb from the road, and provides a panoramic view of Farewell Spit from the base of the lighthouse.
We are agents for Farewell Spit Eco Tours and Farewell Spit Nature Experience. Tours typically take between 5 and 6 hours, and are timed to take advantage of low tides. Tour times are posted in reception.
Farewell Spit is famed for its birds, particularly migratory species best seen between October and March, and for its historic lighthouse. The Tour Company will pick you up and drop you off at the end of Totara Avenue or the nearby Old School Cafe.
For more details on other attractions within Golden Bay please visit www.goldenbaynz.co.nz
The Heaphy Track is one of New Zealand’s “Great Walks”, and goes 82km through Kahurangi National Park from the hills above the Aorere Valley to the West Coast north of Karamea. It is typically a 4–5 day hike. www.heaphytrack.com
Kahurangi is one of the two national parks that embrace Golden Bay. It is noted for its native flora and birds. The Park can be accessed from the Naked Possum via the Kaituna Track, from the road past the Whanganui Inlet, or from the Heaphy Track.
Puponga is an old coal mining town at the base of Farewell Spit. The last of the mines closed in the 1970’s, and it is now mostly holiday homes. The remains of the piles of the Puponga wharf, which was used to load coal, can be seen on the beach. A coal wagon from the Puponga railway can be seen in Collingwood, outside the courthouse. The inlet is a popular spot for picnics.
The Golden Bay Settler’s Museum is in the old Rockville dairy factory building, in the Aorere Valley. It houses a wide range of old machinery. Often on a Sunday, steam engines are fired up for a dramatic display.
The Whanganui Inlet (Westhaven) is New Zealand’s second largest inlet. It is a great venue for picnicking, boating and fishing. The southern third of the inlet is a marine reserve, so no fishing is allowed there. The rest is a wildlife management reserve, which means no commercial fishing – so it is great for recreational fishers! The settlement of Mangarakau is just beyond the inlet, and beyond that the west coast can be accessed at the Paturau River mouth and the Anatori River mouth.
Wharariki Beach is a very popular and scenic beach that is about 16 km away. There is a 20min walk to the beach from the end of the road across farmland. Seals can usually be seen at this beach. The walk from Wharariki takes about 3 – 4 hours and takes in Wharariki Beack, Cape Farewell, Pillar Point and finishes at the base of Cape Farewell. You can leave your car at the Paddlecrab and we will ferry you to Wharariki to start this scenic walk.
Abel Tasman is one of two National Parks that embrace Golden Bay. The coastal track is a pleasant 3 to 5 day hike, with various points of access.
Pupu Springs - full name Waikoropupu literally means “water with dancing sands”. These springs are world famous for their crystal clear waters and sand that dances in the water surging up from below. They are located on a side road just 5km this side of Takaka.
Salmon fishing is available at Anatoki Salmon, just past Takaka. The cost is $18 per kg of fish caught. We will be happy to cook your catch for dinner. www.anatokisalmon.co.nz
Dining in and around Collingwood
In order of distance from Twin Waters
The Old School Cafe
Pakawau – 3 km from Twin Waters Lodge (an easy walk along the beach!). The old school at Pakawau has been converted to a lively restaurant.
Counter food and blackboard menu. Open 11am till late, 7 days during summer. Ph (03) 524 8457.
The Courthouse Cafe
Collingwood – 8 km from Twin Waters Lodge. Quality coffee, food & wine with the ambience of the historical courthouse. Open Thurs – Mon 9 am till late, Tuesday 9 – 5. Closed Weds. Ph (03) 524 8025.
Collingwood – 8 km from Twin Waters Lodge. Open 7 days. Bistro style meals and Takeaways. Indoor-outdoor dining, deck garden bar, bottle shop, courtesy van. Ph (03) 524 8160.
Farewell Spit – 12 km from Twin Waters Lodge. Stunning panoramic views over Farewell Spit. This restaurant is associated with the Farewell Spit DOC information centre. Lunch menu, counter food, expresso coffee, fully licensed. Ph (03) 524 8454.
The Mussel Inn Cafe Bar Brewery
Onekaka – about 15 km from Twin Waters Lodge. Cafe bar and live music venue. Famous for concerts and Mussel Inn beers. Open seven days a week 11am till late. Ph (03) 525 9241 www.musselinn.co.nz
The Naked Possum Cafe
Kaituna Valley – about 20 km from Twin Waters Lodge. At the start of the Kaituna walking track. Open daily 10am-5pm. Late Friday – 10pm. Licensed Bush Cafe, outdoor fire, group functions 6pm onwards. Ph (03) 524 8433. www.nakedpossum.com