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
  • Rawhiti Cave Route

    Rawhiti Cave has possibly the most diverse and extensive entrance and twilight-zone flora of any cave in New Zealand. This flora influences the growth of calcium-based features in the cave; hence the stalactites on the cave ceiling grow outwards towards the sunlight.. You can walk onto a viewing platform just inside the cave entrance. From Takaka, drive east towards Pohara Beach. At Motupipi, turn right into Glenview Road and then left into Packard Road. Rawhiti Cave is signposted from near the end of Packard Road. A rough track follows the legal road through farm land to an informal car park. Please leave the gates as you find them. It takes approximately 15 minutes to drive from Takaka to the carpark. Just after you leave the car park you cross Dry River. After heavy rain, this river is prone to flooding: do not attempt to cross in these conditions. From here, the marked route continues up the valley for 30 minutes and turns sharply right. It then climbs steeply for a further 30 minutes, zigzagging up to the cave entrance. The last section of the track is steep and narrow; reasonable fitness and tramping experience is required for this section.

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    • Location: Packard 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
  • Cable Bay Walkway

    Enjoy the coastal views on this walkway between Rotokura/Cable Bay and The Glen, near Nelson. Boating, sea kayaking, and snorkeling are all possible. Cable Bay Walkway extends from Glenduan to Cable Bay, north of Nelson City. The hilly coastal track passes through a mix of pasture, pine forest and native forest, and provides impressive views of Tasman Bay and Cable Bay. The walk can be completed in either direction and is best enjoyed if you have someone to pick you up at the other end. The complete walk takes about 3½ hours one way, and requires transport arrangements to be made. From the Rotokura/Cable Bay end a shorter return trip is to the top of the first hill (1 hr return) or to the forest edge (2 hr return). From the Glen end, a round trip to the airstrip and back takes about 2 hours. Cable Bay Walkway offers wonderful coastal views of the Boulder Bank, Nelson City and Kahurangi and Abel Tasman National Parks. The middle section of the track passes through a patch of beautiful and varied native forest.The track is a walking track. It is steep in places and strong footwear is recommended.

     

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    • Location: Airlie St, Glenduan, Nelson
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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
  • Kaihoka Lakes

    At Pakawau, turn left off the main road and head over Pakawau Saddle, turning right on to Kaihoka Road just before Whanganui Inlet. Follow this road for 6 kilometres to Kaihoka Lakes Scenic Reserve. Coastal hills form a dramatic backdrop to these beautiful lakes. A 10-minute walking track begins beside one lake and heads gently down to the other. There is space to picnic at the car park and further along the road next to the lake. The reserve is distinguished by its massed nīkau palms, which give the walk a tropical feel. Here and there, dense glades of young mataī, kahikatea, cedar and tānekaha indicate that the forest is recovering after past disturbance. Large, carnivorous Powelliphanta snails live in the reserve and a variety of water fowl can be seen on the lakes. Shags, paradise ducks, Canada geese and grey ducks all find shelter there among the raupō (bullrushes) and reeds.

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    • Location: 342 Limestone Road, Pakawau Saddle, 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.
  • Botanical Reserve and the Centre of New Zealand - Nelson

    The geographical "Centre of New Zealand" allegedly lies in Nelson; on a hilltop suspiciously convenient to the centre of the city. This supposed "centre" in fact simply marks the point deemed the "centre" for the purposes of early geographical surveys. The true geographical centre lies in a patch of unremarkable dense scrub in a forest on the Spooner Range near Tapawera, 35 kilometres southwest of Nelson. However, the “Centre of New Zealand” is a landmark, it makes for a great walk and fantastic viewpoints, and it’s easy access from the city! This is one of Nelson's most popular walks. Enter the Botanical Reserve over a footbridge at the end of Hardy Street, and follow the signs and interpretive panels from there. There are numerous other tracks so you can make a loop by going downhill by another path. A good route back is to head east to Branford Park and take the Matai Track back to your starting point. Playgrounds, toilets and picnic tables in the reserve.

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  • 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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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.