One of New Zealand's most lovable small towns, Takaka is the best getaway to all Golden Bay's natural wonders. When you first arrive in Takaka, you will think you might have travelled back in time and ended up right in the middle of the first Woodstock festival. Full of hippies in yoga pants and colourful dresses, it's easy to understand why this small town feels super chilled and pretty amazing for enjoying a lazy afternoon.
There are plenty of brilliant day trips to be taken from Takaka, and I would recommend you staying here for at least 3 or 4 nights. Just take it easy, this is the time to paint your hair, loosen up and rock those harem pants you've been meaning to wear for ages.
Wholemeal Cafe - We had breakfast at Wholemeal Café pretty much every morning during our stay in Takaka. They have delicious cakes and muffins and some proper good breakfasts.
The Curry Leaf - This must have been the largest ever portion of chips we've ever seen! They sell pretty delicious fish too, usually the catch of the day, so frechness is key to their success.
Custom made Ice Cream Wholemeal Café - In our last day in Takaka, we noticed this tiny ice cream place, right next to our usual breakfast place, the Wholemeal Café. We've been invited to select some frozen fruit which became the flavour and core of our ice cream. Yum! We had a fun conversation with the German expat shop keeper, now a Takaka local, together with his family.
The Brigand - These guys have a super nice and welcoming terrace and probably the best mussels in the whole New Zealand. We visited their establishment twice and left full and content on both occasions.
Takaka is a super tiny town. As in, you will see one big supermarket, a handful of restaurants and few shops around. It's ok though, because Takaka has everything you need during your stay. I particularly loved walking around souvernir shops and checking out all the old school hippies clothes available for purchase. This is the time to buy colourful clothes and hand made sandals.
Abel Tasman Coastal Track
I'm sure this is why you decided to come to Takaka in the first place, to hike on the Abel Tasman Coastal Track. When we'll go back to New Zealand, this is the first place we'll revisit. The highlight of our trip, the Abel Tasman Coastal Track will provide you with postcard perfect views, native bush and plenty of golden beaches for you to relax on. You can do the Abel Tasman Coastal Track within 3-5 days. If you wish to have a day trip, it is also possible to hike a small loop around Gibbs Hill.
The track is well marked, well defined and it's almost impossible to get lost. The bonus is that you don't even need crazy high tech boots for this one, due to its brilliant terrain. However, note that very likely your feet will get wet, due to the walks on the beach and crazy tides.
We started our walk from Wainui Bay, continued towards the Separation Point, went down to Totaranui and then back to Wainui Bay via Gibbs Hill. It was AMAZING!
Te Waikoropupu Springs
Te Waikoropupu or Pupu springs are the largest freshwater springs in New Zealand, discharging 14000 litres of water per second. The springs are located about 15 minute drive from the centre of Takaka. There is a free parking available right at the entrance. You can read about the history of the Pupu springs and what it represented to the Māori, New Zealand's indigenous people. You will follow a well defined path through mānuka and kānuka forest, just before reaching the incredibly clear waters of Te Waikoropupu Springs. There are benches around, so you can sit down and admire this natural beauty. No matter how tempted you are, touching the water is off limits.
This incredible place will take your breath away. It feels incredibly remote here. The sands are extraordinarily white and fine here. You just need a glimpse of the Wharakiki Beach and you won't want to leave. When reaching the shores, be prepared for winds and some of the most amazing views a secluded beach can offer. You will see cliffs, white sand dunes, coves and extra cute seal pups. When the tides are out, the wet shores become this amazing mirror, which provide you with amazing photographic opportunities.
Imagine a 35 km beach with impressive sand dunes and panoramic views all the way back to the Golden Bay. The Farewell Spit is also a bird sanctuary, You can freely explore 4km of this paradise. Beyond the access point you can only venture as part of an organised tour which will schedule the trip according to tides.
We visited Wharariki Beach at low tide and from there we continued our journey towards the Cape Farewell. Just be careful as some parts of the walk are steep and there are lots of cliffs around, so if the winds are strong, you should not venture further. The walk will take about 3-4 hours.
Kahurangi National Park
Mostly known for its Heaphy Track, Kahurangi is a wild and wonderful place to visit. You can spot kiwis, keas, kakas and blue ducks whilst your wonders through deep beech, rimu and podocarps forests. You should allow 3-5 days for hiking the Heaphy Track, a brilliant trail which will take you on some seriously diverse terrain, from secluded valleys to beautiful dense native forests. If you are short for time, then take a day trip to Cobb Valley or Mt. Arthur.
Tell me all about your Golden Coast adventure in New Zealand's South Island in the comment section below. Also, don't forget to check our 7 days in New Zealand South Island itinerary.