Nelson & Golden Bay, Walks & Parks

  • Rabbit Island Recreation Reserve - Nelson

    A popular beach and picnic spot, 15 minutes drive west of Nelson. The island is reachable by a bridge that crosses the estuary behind the island. Most of the island is pine plantations, with a public picnic area in the middle of the front beach. Toilets, changing rooms and outside showers are at the beach. Also picnic tables and coin operated BBQs. The gates are closed at sunset and overnight stays are not allowed so be ready to leave before it gets dark. There is a large sign near the entrance which lets you know what time the gates will be closing that day (in the middle of summer it’s around 9pm).

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  • Pupu Hydro Walkway

    Pupu Hydro Walkway (Loop 1 hr 50 min) begins 9 km from Takaka at the end of Pupu Valley Road. Follow the road towards Te Waikoropupū Springs, turning off to the right just before the bridge crossing Waikoropupū River. The Pupu Hydro Walkway retraces an old gold-mining water race, which has been reused for power generation. Botanically the walkway is very interesting, bird life is plentiful, and the history is fascinating.  Although the climb to the water race line is a little steep, the first section, across Waikoropupū River to the power station, is an easy grade suitable for all ages. Beyond the power station the track crosses Campbell Creek and zigzags upwards to reach the race after about 30 minutes’ climb. From here the track levels out and follows the race ‘upstream’ for a short distance to a lookout point above the power station. From here on you are strongly advised to carry small children in a backpack and watch other children carefully; a fall from the race and the water itself are potentially dangerous. The water race, which follows the steep contours of the hillside and is part canal and part aqueduct, was an engineering masterpiece for its time. If you look carefully in the water you might see large kōura (freshwater crayfish). Follow the race for 30 minutes or so to the weir (the water intake), which marks the end of the walkway and is a beautiful picnic spot. The weir channels water from the creek into the race; a large shutter was raised or lowered to vary the amount of water taken from the stream. The Hydro Society 4WD vehicle access track from the weir makes the walkway a loop walk (50 min) back to the car park.

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    • Location: Pupu Valley Rd, Tasman Takaka
  • Lions Playground and Tahunanui Beach

    This walk takes in Nelson's premier children's playground - the Lions Playground. Time: 50 - 70 minutes walking. The playground time is over to you! Easy walk over sand. Check the newspaper for tide times when planning this walk. This walk goes past a rollerskating area, and Nelson Fun park as well as havong a BMX track close by. Bring a picnic and make a day of it. Start: Tahunanui Reserve car park by the Lions Playground. Cross the playground and head to the left on Tahunanui Beach. There's plenty to interest children on the beach, and in summer (or a fine winter's day) you can swim. The view of ships coming and going from the port is impressive and if you're taking an evening stroll, the sunsets are a treat. Turn left when the main beach ends and head down the Back Beach to the point where the sand hills end at the entrance to a small inlet. From here wander through the trees back towards the carpark.

     

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    • Location: Tahunanui Beach, off Rocks Road, Nelson
  • Abel Tasman National Park

    New Zealand’s smallest National Park at just 225sq km. Both the inland and coastal tracks are famous for their outstanding beauty, and it’s very easy to take the family on small sections of the coastal track (total is 51km), walking for anything from an hour, half or full day. You can then arrange to pick up a water taxi back to Marahau or Kaiteriteri. The track starts at Marahau, just outside the Park Café. From here you walk along the boardwalks for about 5 minutes, to the start of the actual track. Short walk - the first section of the track is very easy and you can be picnicking on a secluded beach within 20 minutes, admiring the turquoise waters, golden sand and inquisitive birdlife. Other walking options - If you carry on to the first hut on the track, at Anchorage Bay, you’re in for a stunning walk but it’ll be 4 to 5 hours. Water taxis have a scheduled pick up from Anchorage to Marahau, and the last departure is around 3.30pm. Check this before you leave, or book a personalised pick up service. Water taxi cruise / walk – all water taxi companies also offer tours where you can be dropped off at a scenic section of the park and walk for a few hours before you are picked up again. See individual companies for more details.

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  • Paynes Ford Scenic Reserve

    Paynes Ford Scenic Reserve is located along State Highway 60, 3 km south of Takaka. It takes its name from the original ford across the flood-prone Takaka River on the main road into Takaka. A modern bridge now replaces the ford. With its impressive line of limestone bluffs emerging from a remnant patch of forest, Paynes Ford is one of New Zealand’s best rock-climbing areas. Climbers come from far and wide to enjoy the challenge of the sheer rock faces — these are definitely not for beginners! Non-climbers will enjoy a visit to the reserve to picnic, swim, walk or watch the climbers. There is a large picnic area beside the highway bridge. At the southern end of this area is a toilet, where the Paynes Ford Tramline Track (a 30-minute walk) begins. The track provides access to the climbing areas and some excellent swimming holes in the Takaka River. It follows the line of a railway that operated between the early 1880s and 1905 and was used to take timber from the Takaka valley down to Waitapu wharf.

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    • Location: 1886 Takaka Valley Hwy, Takaka 7183
  • Beaches - Nelson region

    The Nelson region has endless golden beaches ideal for swimming, sailing, windsurfing, kite surfing etc. Some of our top picks are: • Tahunanui beach, Nelson – great for families. Safe swimming and plenty of other activities nearby for the kids. Great place for a picnic or BBQ. • Kaiteriteri - three great beaches on your doorstep, all safe for swimming, perfect for family holidays. • Cloudy Bay – unspoilt and quiet beach. Check out the rest of the coastline too. • Golden Bay - lots of safe swimming beaches. The golden sand beaches start East of Tarakohe harbour. The shallow tidal beaches like Pohara, Ligar Bay can be very warm when the tide comes in over the warm sand. If the tide is out, Tata beach always has deep water and this is a great swimming beach. • The walk to Taupo Point in Abel Tasman National Park (about 1 hour and at mid to low tide) passes some lovely beaches. • Totaranui beach, western end of the Abel Tasman National Park – stunning! • Wainui - secluded and can be more sheltered from any westerly winds

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  • Takaka Hill Walkway

    Takaka Hill Walkway is a loop walk at the top of Takaka Hill. The walkway passes through fascinating karst landscape, with intriguing marble rock formations, beech forest with magnificent views of Kahurangi National Park and Golden Bay. Length: 3 km for half loop; 5.1 km for full loop,  Time Required: 1-2 hr for half loop; 2-3 hr for full loop. The loop track is located at the top of Takaka Hill on State Highway 60, 53km from Richmond and 38 km from Takaka. There is a car park off the side of the road which is well signposted.

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    • Location: 1147 Takaka Hill Hwy, Takaka Hill 7198
  • Aorere Goldfields Track

     Aorere Goldfields Track is a 3-hour loop (9km from Collingwood), which gives you access to explore some of the more accessible gold-mining remnants, including the Slate River Sluicing Company Dam (‘Druggans Dam’) and the Aorere Caves. Boots and a degree of fitness are recommended. As there is little shade along the track, sun protection is also required. From the car park a 4WD track passes an old ground–sluicing claim worked in the 1880s and continues onto the large open area partly covered by pākihi vegetation, which is Druggans Flat. From here the track climbs steadily, passing a side track that leads to the untouched bush of Stanton’s Creek. It then follows part of the original benched miners’ track. At the first junction, continue straight ahead. On the right you pass the end of a water race and a tunnel before the short side track to Stafford’s Cave. Stafford’s Cave and Ballroom Cave (accessed by short side tracks a little further on) can both be explored if you are equipped with appropriate clothing, a torch and some care. Early miners recorded their names on some of the formations within these caves; please take care not to disturb these. Ballroom Cave is reputed to have been used by miners as avenue for dances. From here it is another 20–30 minutes to the dam. On a fine day your effort is rewarded on this section of the track with excellent views of the Wakamarama and Burnett ranges, Ruataniwha Inlet and north to Farewell Spit.

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    • Location: Aorere Goldfields car park, Devils Boots Rd. Rockville.
  • Labyrinth Rocks Walkway

    Just two kilometres out of Takaka, on the way to Pohara, are three big oak trees. Turn left here, follow the signs to Labyrinth Rocks Walkway and you will find one of Golden Bay's most amazing places. Nature has produced a maze-like network of canyons through a limestone outcrop " an excellent example of the geological term 'Karst' limestone for which this area is known. It has been developed (and is still in the process of being developed) as an enchanting family attraction. Young or old, you will love exploring all the nooks and crannies - keep younger kids close to you as you can get lost in the maze, older kids will enjoy going off and trying to find their way back. A magical thing to do - is see if you can find  little toys and figurines hidden in the rocks - it's the locals kids secret toy swop. So if your child brings their own figure/toy (check out the Salvation Army shop in town), your child can find one they love they can take it and leave theirs in its place! They will be begging to go back the next day.

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    • Location: 7183, 45 Scott Rd, Takaka 7183
  • Sylvester Hut Track

    Walk up to Sylvester Hut as day walk or overnight tramp with children - enjoy great views from the hut and explore a series of lakes on the open tops behind the hut. Sylvester Hut is an easy-ish two hour climb on an old 4WD track from a small carpark over the Cobb Dam, through beech forest until you get out onto the tussock tops. Not far away are the pretty Lake Sylvester and a few smaller alpine tarns. There is a major view to the east, D’Urville Island in the Marlborough Sounds, the Richmond Range. You can even see Mt Taranaki on a clear day. Sylvester Hut is one of the best bang for your bucks around: close to the road, great hut, excellent views.

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    • Location: Cobb Dam Rd, Kahurangi National Park 7073
  • Te Waikoropupu Springs

    Follow State Highway 60 north from Takaka on the road to Collingwood, turning left just beyond Takaka River. Follow Pupu Valley and Te Waikoropupū Springs roads to the springs’ car park, 7 km from Takaka.
    Te Waikoropupū Springs are New Zealand’s largest freshwater springs and the largest coldwater springs in the southern hemisphere. They contain some of the clearest water ever measured and are set in a reserve
    that protects gold workings, regenerating forest and a fine patch of mature bush. To Māori the area of Te Waikoropupū is a taonga or treasure and a wāhi tapu, a place held in high cultural and spiritual regard, both locally and nationally. The legends of Te Waikoropupū are told in the stories of Huriawa, its taniwha (guardian spirit). In Māori tradition the springs are waiora, the purest form of water and provide water for healing. In the past, the springs were a place of ceremonial blessings at times of birth and death and the leaving and returning of travellers. A platform that sits partly over the water allows visitors to get a good view of the springs. A suite of interpretation signs at the entrance way tells the full story of this fascinating and beautiful place. Well-formed walking tracks allow you to explore the reserve. Allow 30–45 mins to visit the springs and return. It is worth spending extra time to enjoy the interpretation signs at the entrance.

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    • Location: Pupu Springs Rd, Takaka 7183
  • The Grampians - Nelson

    The Grampians are a prominent group of hills rising steeply behind Nelson City. Named after the mountain range in Scotland, the tallest point reaches 390 m and is notable for havin... read more

    • Location: Upper Collingwood Street, Nelson
Map of New Zealand
  • Central Otago
  • Bay of Plenty
  • Coromandel
  • Dunedin
  • Gisborne
  • Fiordland
  • Hawkes Bay
  • North Canterbury
  • Manawatu
  • Nelson & Golden Bay
  • Northland
  • Marlborough Sounds
  • Rotorua
  • Queenstown
  • Taranaki
  • South Canterbury
  • Taupo
  • Southland
  • Waikato
  • Wanaka
  • West Coast
  • Whangarei
  • Bay of Islands
  • Tauranga
  • Gisborne
  • Hamilton
  • Napier
  • Kapiti
  • Palmerston North
  • Whanganui
  • New Plymouth
  • Arrowtown
  • Te Anau
  • Akaroa
  • Ashburton
  • Hanmer
  • Kaikoura
  • Methven
  • Mt Cook
  • Oamaru
  • Tekapo
  • Timaru
  • Abel Tasman
  • Motueka
  • Nelson Lakes
  • Blenheim
  • Picton
  • Catlins
  • Gore
  • Stewart Island
  • Central Plateau
  • Invercargill
  • Cromwell
  • Greymouth
  • Hokitika
  • Westport
  • Glenorchy

Our favourite destinations…

Auckland destination2

Auckland

New Zealand’s economic heart and biggest city is also an exciting family visitor destination, situated on a sunny harbour with city beaches just minutes away from the CBD. Orientate yourself by heading down to Viaduct Harbour, wandering the waterfront, checking out the super yachts or enjoying the waterfront restaurants. Nearby is the must-visit Sky Tower along with excellent and kid-friendly museums and tons of exciting activities!

Wellington

Wellington is New Zealand’s capital. Here you will find New Zealand's parliament buildings, including the 'Executive Wing', more well-known as 'The Beehive' due to its distinctive shape. Another icon to look out for is the Wellington Tram, which was the main means of public transport between 1878 and 1964.

Christchurch

With a population of around 400,000 Christchurch, in Canterbury, is the South Island ’s largest city, yet much of it has the feel of a small town. Perhaps that’s why it’s known as the Garden City but with the expansive Hagley Park, Botanic Gardens, Port Hills, River Avon and numerous beaches the city certainly has an open, relaxed feel that’s hard to beat.

Queenstown

With its well-deserved reputation as New Zealand’s activity adventure capital you’ll never run out of activities and things to do in Queenstown, but you may run out of time! With breathtaking scenery, activities and festivals, cafes and restaurants, skiing and snowboarding, shopping and wineries, this lakeside alpine resort rates as one of the world’s top vacation destinations for all ages and seasons.

Rotorua

Rotorua sits on the shore of Lake Rotorua, one of sixteen lakes in the area formed by hundreds of thousands of years of eruptions from the Taupo Volcanic Zone. The area is renowned for its geothermal activity and top of any activity list is to see the bubbling mud pools that are around the region for yourself. The Waimangu Volcanic Valley offers a first hand insight into the devastation caused by the 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera and is a great place to discover steaming volcanic craters and bubbling, spitting  pools of mud!

Nelson and Golden Bay

The Nelson and Golden Bay regions, at the top of the South Island, boast enviable sunshine hours, glorious sandy beaches, safe swimming spots, lots of wildlife to look out for, and Abel Tasman National Park - an absolute must to explore, on foot, by kayak, your own craft or watertaxi.  Nelson is home to a vibrant arts and crafts community with a fabulous Saturday market, and is close to award-winning wineries and family-friendly bike tracks to take you around the coast.

Hawkes Bay

Napier was rebuilt after the 1931 earthquake and is now known as NZ's Art Deco City.  The Art Deco influence has created a unique city – nowhere else can you see such a varied concentration of art deco style. With over 2,200 sunshine hours a year, Napier is a year-round holiday destination with countless activities to entertain the kids – there's days of entertainment on Marine Parade alone, plus numerous other family-friendly trips and activities.  Add to that the beaches, walks and flat cycle paths, outdoor cafes and entertainment, and you have a perfect holiday destination!

Northland

Beautiful, unspoiled beaches, fishing, historic gum fields, kauri forests – the Far North has it all. With subtropical temperatures, it's often known as ‘the Winterless north', with warm, humid summers and mild winters.
Gateway to the Bay of Islands, Paihia is a pretty, lively beachside town and a perfect base for your family holiday. It’s your start point for Bay of Island adventures including day cruises, sailing, kayaking, swimming with dolphins and reef or wreck diving.