1. Anatoki Salmon Farm
Anatoki Salmon Farm is a based around a man-made small lake filled with Salmon which have been reared nearby. It is a great activity for adults & kids – entry and use of the fishing gear is free, you just pay for bait (this does help to catch the salmon faster!) and the salmon that you catch (per kg). The salmon can then be smoked or made into sashimi and either eaten in the on site café or taken home.
In an adjoining area there is also a small petting zoo, pancake café, and a spot by the river to feed tame eels (eel food sold at the café).
The salmon farm is located approx 10 minutes outside the centre of Takaka.
2. Te Waikoropupu Springs
Te Waikoropupu, or ‘pupu’ springs as it is known, is home to the clearest spring water in the world – visibility under water is 63m!
The walk to the springs is an enjoyable 25-45 minute return trip through native bush, but I would allow at least 1 hour to allow some time to take photos and admire the beauty of the place. The track is well maintained and only requires a moderate level of fitness.
I have returned to the springs many times as it is such a tranquil place to visit, there are benches along the way and at the springs so you can sit and take it all in.
The springs are located approx 6km from the centre of Takaka (approx 10 minute drive) – head out of town towards Collingwood and you will see the sign for Te Waikoropupu on the left of the highway.
3. Wharariki Beach & Cape Farewell
Wharariki beach is my favourite beach in New Zealand hands down.
Whilst Wharariki is not necessarily a swimming or sunbathing beach as it is windswept for most of the year, it is its rugged beauty that I love. Once you have arrived in the car park, there is a 20 minute walk across farmland to reach the beach. As you arrive at the beach you are greeted by large sand dunes that then open out to a long stretch of sand.
Wharariki is also home to a seal population (along with babies that love to play in the pools that form on the rocks). Please take a telephoto lens with you and keep your distance from the seals – this is the type of place we need to preserve for future generations!
After visiting the beach, on your drive out of the car park, turn left towards ‘Cape Farewell’, this is the most Northerly part of the South Island. It is a great place to admire the view out to sea (and any seals playing below) and grab some photos.
A nearby farm operates horse treks, and for experienced riders it is possible to ride a horse along Wharariki Beach – an absolute dream!
Wharariki beach is approx 1 hour 15 minutes from the centre of Takaka, drive towards Collingwood, then follow signs for Wharariki/Farewell Spit. The road turns to gravel for the last 10 minutes.
4. Farewell Spit
If you are visiting Wharariki Beach, you should also take the time to visit Farewell Spit. Farewell spit is the long curved sand spit that you see if you look on a map of the top of the South Island. You are able to walk a short way along the spit yourself (around 4km), but if you want to see any further along the 35km spit, you will need to take a tour (try local operator – Farewell Spit Eco Tours).
Part of the spit is a designated wetland and is an internationally renowned bird sanctuary with over 90 bird species recorded.
There is a café that sits on land above the spit with views across the spit – perfect for a refreshing drink before/after a walk along the spit.
5. Lunch at The Mussel Inn
The Mussel Inn has become famous for its homemade beer, cider and soft drinks, in addition to its simple yet delicious food menu. There is nothing on their menu that I wouldn’t recommend! To drink, choices include ‘Ginger Bear’, ‘Lemming Aid’, ‘Freckled Frog’ (their feijoa cider), and to eat, choices include fish open burger, nachos, saussies, and mussels – of course this is not an exhaustive list of the menu.
The Mussel Inn has a large outdoor area with plently of trees for shade, as well as covered areas and tables inside if you prefer. The Mussel Inn also hosts many bands and it is a popular spot on New Years Eve.
The Mussel Inn is located in Onekaka, approx 17kms from the centre of Takaka (15 minute drive).
6. Wainui Falls
The Wainui Falls Track is an excellent, and increasingly popular, short walk. The Falls are located at the end of a 1.5km track (approx 30 min each way) through native bush that winds along beside the Wainui River.
The track is well formed (recently rebuilt following extensive flooding in 2011) and passes over a swing bridge – the walk is not difficult but requires moderate fitness levels.
There is also a recently opened cafe (Palmville) next to the Wainui Falls carpark if you fancy a drink or bite to eat after your walk.
Wainui falls are located 20km (approx 30 minute drive) outside of Takaka – drive towards Totaranui, past Tata beach and Ligar Bay. The entrance is sign posted and located on the right (if you are driving from Takaka).
7. Harwood’s Hole
Harwood’s Hole is part of a cave system on the Takaka Hill – it is home to the deepest vertical shaft in New Zealand (176m). From the car park it is a 45 minute walk through beech forest to reach Harwood’s Hole. There are no barriers, so keep your distance (and children safe) as you are admiring the awe-inspiring sinkhole in ground!
On your way in/out, it is worth branching off the road to Gorge Creek which will reward you with stunning views of the Takaka Valley.
Experienced cavers can actually enter Harwoods Hole, but ensure you read the guidelines first.
Harwoods Hole is located 46km outside the centre of Takaka (approx 1 hour drive).
8. Buy handmade chocolate at Rosy Glow
Drive out to Collingwood and buy some handmade chocolates to take home from the Rosy Glow Chocolate Shop.
Admittedly, the chocolate is not cheap, but it is all handmade using high quality ingredients – perfect for a treat or to take home as a gift (if it lasts that long!)
Rosy Glow is located 27km outside the centre of Takaka (25 minute drive).
9. Drive up the Cobb Valley
If you have time, take a drive up the Cobb Valley. There are some fantastic views across the Cobb Reservoir to be seen from the top, and if you have longer than 1 day to spend in this area there are many tracks around the Cobb Valley and DOC huts to stay the night.
On your drive up you will pass the Cobb Valley Hydro-Electric Power Station, you can park up and admire the steep pipe carrying water from the reservoir down to the powerstation (it is the highest of any in New Zealand), and then witness the sheer power of the water discharging out of the power station and back into the river.
10. Rawhiti Cave
Whilst the cave involves somewhat of the steep walk to get to, it is well worth the walk – it is approx 1 hour one way walk to the cave with the last 30 minutes being steep.
The cave has an impressive large entrance and most diverse twilight-zone flora of any cave in New Zealand.
Located approx 8km (10 minute drive) outside the centre of Takaka. It is not recommended to visit the cave during or shortly after rainfall.
11. Enjoy the local beaches
The closet beaches (in order of distance) to the centre of Takaka are Pohara, Ligar Bay, and Tata Beach.
Pohara and Ligar are tidal, whereas Tata beach is not – all of the beaches are nice, however my favourites are Ligar and Tata.
You can also hire kayaks from Golden Bay Kayaks (based on Tata beach) – you are able to hire a kayak for an overnight trip to Taupo Point (self guided) for $90 p/p (at time of publishing – 2017). Taupo is easy to get to from Tata beach and takes between 40 minutes and 1 hour depending on fitness levels – Taupo beach is beautiful and a trip is highly recommended.
12. Walking Tracks
There are many walking tracks in Golden Bay, some of which I have mentioned above (Wharariki / Wainui Falls Track), however DOC have produced a fantastic brochure showcasing the many walks around Golden Bay – available here.
There is a fantastic Lonely Planet book on Hiking & Tramping in New Zealand which you should check out if you want to do other walks around New Zealand.