Nelson & Golden Bay, Walks & Parks

  • 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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  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Farewell Spit - Wharariki Beach

    One of the most beautiful beaches in the region – huge sand dunes, lagoon, caves, seals, birdlife and no roads nearby! Access is by easy path – from the end of Wharariki Road, walk over farmland and through a section of coastal forest to the beach. Please do not approach seals. Be aware of weather conditions and sea and surf can be rough. Fossil Point Loop – easy 1 hr return From the carpark, walk across Triangle Flat to see fossils in the mudstone and seals in the water. Return via Ocean Beach and a vehicle track. Pakawau Beach Good family swimming beach with shallow, warm waters. 15 minutes north of Colllingwood. Watching the speed of the tide flow into or out of the inlet is an experience in itself!

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  • 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
  • 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
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.