Occupying the northwestern tip of the South Island, GOLDEN BAY curves gracefully from the northern fringes of the Abel Tasman National Park to the encircling arm of Farewell Spit, all backed by the magnificent Kahurangi National Park. With bush-clad mountains on three sides and waves lapping at the fourth, Golden Bay’s inaccessibility has helped foster the illusion that if it is not a world apart it is certainly otherworldly.
Wainui Bay, just east of the main town of Takaka, is most likely the spot where Abel Tasman first anchored, guaranteeing his place in history as the first European to encounter Aotearoa and its fierce inhabitants. The apparently isolating presence of Takaka Hill keeps today’s bayside communities from growing virally, though the area has attracted a cross section of immigrants, alternative lifestylers, craftspeople, businessmen and artists, which goes some way to explaining the population’s perceived spirit of independence. The area has been particularly popular with German-speakers who now constitute ten percent of the five thousand or so residents. Sunny, beautiful and full of fascinating sights, Golden Bay deserves a couple days of your time and has a knack of inducing you to stay longer.