Nelson & Golden Bay, Walks & Parks

  • 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
  • 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
  • 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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  • 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
  • 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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  • 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
  • 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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  • 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
  • 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
  • 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.