Nelson & Golden Bay, Walks & Parks

  • Knuckle Hill Track

    Head west from Pakawau over the Pakawau Saddle and down to Whanganui Inlet. Dry Road leads around the inlet, crossing several tidal streams before climbing to a car park at a saddle with a great view of the inlet mouth. Knuckle Hill Track is signposted from the car park. This aptly named hill provides the only elevated viewpoint over Whanganui Inlet, a huge estuary declared a marine reserve and wildlife management reserve in 1994. From the car park, an old logging road climbs gently through regenerating forest to a clearing, where there is plenty of space to relax and picnic. This 5.6-kilometre section of road takes about one hour to walk or a little less to mountain bike. At the clearing, the marked route up Knuckle Hill begins — a short climb of 20 minutes. From the top, right on the boundary of Kahurangi National Park, are excellent views of the top of the South Island, particularly Farewell Spit and Whanganui Inlet.

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    • Location: Knuckle Hill, Kahurangi National Park 7073
  • Speargrass Track Hut

    For an easy overnight tramp, great for kids, walk to Speargrass Hut on this well graded track. 2 hr 30 min one way - this well graded track descends gradually from the carpark. It follows the river along the valley floor then climbs up through beautiful beech forest to Speargrass Hut ( 12 bunk beds) – set in clearing with mountain views.

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    • Location: Mt Robert Road, off SH 63 east of St Arnaud.
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Kaituna Track

    Kaituna Track begins approximately 15 km from Collingwood. Follow the main road from Collingwood to Bainham inland to where Carters Road begins, on a tight corner. The car park is at the end of the road. The track starts from the car park at the end of Carters Road and continues right through to Westhaven Inlet on the West Coast (8–9 hours). Most people, however, walk only to the site of the old Kaituna gold workings (20 min) or on to Kaituna Forks, a 2-hour return trip. The Kaituna Goldfield was first worked in 1859 and continued until the late 1800s, although little gold was ever recovered. The present track follows the original packhorse track to the Kaituna goldfield. From the car park, cross Little Granity Creek using the footbridge and follow the farm track for 400 metres to the start of the walk. A short track takes you past the remains of gold- sluicing operations, water races, tailing piles and a small cave. The side track then cuts back onto the main track. Beyond the Kaituna Forks, the track changes to a ‘route’ and is suitable only for experienced and fit trampers. At the forks there is a river crossing which is impassable in flood. From here it is a further 5–6 hours over a marked route to Knuckle Hill. Beautiful native forest and gold-mining relics are the main attractions of the Kaituna Valley. Magnificent specimens of northern rātā, pukatea and rimu tower over a sub-canopy of nīkau palms, heketara, wineberry, kāmahi, and māhoe. The rich forest and mild climate allow a wide range of birds to flourish: kererū (the New Zealand pigeon), tūī, fantail, tomtit, bush robin, rifleman, silvereye and bellbird.

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    • Location: Carter Road, Collingwood
  • Farewell Spit - Golden Bay

    Situated at the northwest tip of the South Island, the distinctive Farewell Spit curves round Golden Bay – at 25km it’s the longest sand spit in NZ and is very visible from the air. As a nature reserve, Farewell Spit is known internationally and over 90 bird species are recorded in the area. Farewell Spit has also unfortunately witnessed several incidents of mass whale beachings over the years. Despite an enormous local turn out to attempt to save the whales, these beachings have often resulted in a saddening death toll.

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  • Wainui Falls Track

    The 30-minute walk to Wainui Falls is popular as accessible waterfalls are not common in Golden Bay. The track starts from a car park in Wainui Bay 20 km north-east of Takaka. Look for the direction sign on the road side approximately 300 metres after crossing over the Wainui River Bridge. From the car park the track crosses farmland for a short distance before entering forest and climbing rapidly to a point where you see the river surprisingly far below. Here you walk through a forest of nīkau palms, rātā trees and ferns. Keep a lookout for a possible sighting of the giant snail, Powelliphanta. Look but don’t touch! A few minutes after crossing the swingbridge over the Wainui River, you will hear the falls before they suddenly appear, usually curtained in spray. Children need to be closely supervised as there are steep drops off the edge of the track in some places. Take a picnic, there are a few little beaches perfect for a swim, picnic and a bit of boulder hopping.

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    • Location: 29 Wainui Falls Rd, Tata Beach 7183
  • 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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  • 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.