Nelson & Golden Bay, Walks & Parks

  • 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
  • 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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  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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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  • 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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  • 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
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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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  • 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
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.