GOLDEN DAYS IN Golden Bay

Crystal clear springs, dra­matic cave for­ma­tions, golden sands and manuka honey beer await those who thirst for some truly stun­ning scenery

Go Travel New Zealand - - Nelson & Marlborough -

Dra­matic peaks, green dairy pas­tures, golden sands … the irst view of Golden Bay Mo­hua from Takaka Hill can take your breath away.

Early names such as Mur­derer’s Bay, Mas­sacre Bay and Coal Bay in­di­cate an in­ter­est­ing past be­fore the bay at the top north west of the South Is­land was named Golden Bay Mo­hua and came to rep­re­sent a hol­i­day lo­ca­tion of rare beauty and tran­quil­lity.

Known as a pop­u­lar tourist des­ti­na­tion be­cause of its set­tled weather and re­laxed, friendly life­style, the bay is pro­tected in the north by the ex­tra­or­di­nary Farewell Spit, a thin arch of land pro­trud­ing for some 30km from the main­land.

Ev­i­dence of Maori set­tle­ment along the shores of the Golden Bay dates from at least 1450. When Dutch ex­plorer Abel Tas­man an­chored 7km out of the bay in 1642, lo­cal iwi Ngati Tu­matakokiri rammed the Dutch ship’s land­ing boat with a waka and killed four crew, for which Tas­man named the bay Mo­or­den­nar’s (Mur­derer’s) Bay.

It is thought the French ex­plorer Jules Du­mont d’Urville changed the name to Mas­sacre Bay in the late 1700s. Euro­pean set­tle­ment com­menced in 1842 fol­low­ing the dis­cov­ery of coal on one of the beaches, but a bid by lo­cals to re­name the area Coal Bay was quickly eclipsed by the dis­cov­ery of gold in the re­gion, and the en­su­ing gold rush saw the name Golden Bay come into use and even­tu­ally of­fi­cially adopted.

Be­fore you lay eyes on Golden Bay, you'll en­joy an amaz­ingly scenic road jour­ney. The long, slow climb over Takaka Hill - New Zealand’s long­est hill - is the irst en­joy­able chal­lenge. The steep twist­ing road re­veals the an­cient craggy lime and mar­ble for­ma­tions and cav­ing sys­tem that give the hill its pop­u­lar name of the mar­ble moun­tain. Well-sign­posted look­outs lure the driver o the road from time to time to en­joy spec­tac­u­lar views over Tas­man Bay to Nel­son and be­yond, but once the sum­mit of Takaka Hill is crossed at 791m above sea level, Golden Bay sud­denly ap­pears with star­tling beauty, the glacial move­ment that formed the deep green val­ley ev­i­dent as the Takaka River runs north to­wards the dis­tant sea, while be­yond the val­ley rise the dra­matic Tas­man Moun­tains.

At the sum­mit, the subterranean splen­dors of Har­woods Hole (the deep­est sink­hole in the South­ern Hemi­sphere at 176m deep) and the Ngarua Caves lend a mys­ti­cal magic to the land­scape: it’s not sur­pris­ing the area fea­tured as ilm lo­ca­tions in the Lord of the Rings tril­ogy.

Af­ter nav­i­gat­ing down the zig zag­ging high­way, take time to visit Te Waiko­rop­upu Springs (also known as Pupu Springs and the largest cold wa­ter springs in the South­ern Hemi­sphere) - a tran­quil, spir­i­tual spot boast­ing the third clear­est fresh wa­ter in the world (af­ter the sub-glacial wa­ter in the Antarc­tic and Blue Lake in Tas­man).

Ex­traor­di­nar­ily beau­ti­ful, the springs are a waahi tapu or sa­cred place to the lo­cal Maori tribe, and touch­ing the wa­ter is for­bid­den but you can take a stroll around the walk­ways and read the in­ter­pre­tive pan­els along the way, which ex­plain why and how the wa­ter is so clear (in a nut shell, Takaka Hill is one gi­ant fil­tra­tion sys­tem due to the karst rock).

Trav­el­ling on around the huge, sandy bay which is fa­mous for its scal­lops, Colling­wood is the inal set­tle­ment of any size be­fore Farewell Spit, the lengthy sand-spit wrap­ping it­self around the up­per reaches of the bay.

The Spit is a bird sanc­tu­ary and Wet­land of In­ter­na­tional Im­por­tance so there are DOC re­stric­tions on pub­lic ac­cess but guided 4WD sa­faris de­part daily to see the light­house at the end of the spit, NZ fur seals and the birds. But writ­ing about it doesn’t do this ex­tra­or­di­nary land­scape jus­tice - it needs to be ex­pe­ri­enced in per­son.

Also of note, for its dra­matic rock for­ma­tions and sand dunes (cre­ated by dra­matic wind and waves) is Wharariki Beach, lo­cated on the Tas­man Sea side of Cape Farewell. The beach is ac­cessed on foot about 20 min­utes’ com­fort­able walk from the carpark but the ul­ti­mate Wharariki ex­pe­ri­ence is via horse trek.

Hik­ing the Hea­phy Track

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.