4 outdoor activities in Golden Bay
Tucked in the crook of the kiwi’s beak (look at the map and tilt your head slightly to the left – there it is), Golden Bay is a destination, rather than a stop on the way to somewhere else. There’s one road in and one road out – so only those who seek shall find.
Here are four outdoor activities to try while exploring Golden Bay.
Words: Cheree Morrison Photos: Jane Ussher
GO HORSE RIDING
Pamela Forbes is convinced that she’s living in one of the country’s best regions, but just in case she happened to forget, visiting horse enthusiasts remind her daily. “You’re so lucky,” they say, as the horses beneath them clip-clop across white-sand beaches on the edge of Farewell Spit, around mine shafts and gold mining relics, or through Pamela’s dairy farm and private native bush. “Golden Bay is diverse. We have national parks, beautiful swimming beaches, the spit – it’s all here on our doorstep.”
Hearing how beautiful the visitors find the surroundings is music to Pamela’s ears – and has been since she and husband James purchased Cape Farewell Horse Treks three years ago. Their dairy farm was adjacent to the horse trekking business and they’d come to know and love the horses. When the business was put up for sale, they couldn’t bear to see anyone else look after them. The 26 horses all have big personalities and Pamela and James say there is one to match all riding abilities.
No experience necessary. During the peak summer periods it pays to book in advance, but outside summer, a phone call the night before should be fine.
23 McGowan Street, Puponga. (03) 524 8031
Photographer: Adrian Bell
There are few locations in the South Island that can match the variety of piscatorial opportunities on offer in Golden Bay. The expansive bay from Bush End across to Separation Point provides a wide range of fishing options. Snapper, blue cod, tarakihi and gurnard are the staples, with kingfish recently creating something of a mecca for saltwater fly fishing aficionados.
Golden Bay is blessed with many expansive flat areas where the kingfish congregate in numbers in late summer and autumn.
This is challenging fishing for several reasons. Physically, it is tough on the angler, who must wade waist deep in pursuit of the fast-moving quarry. There is also the constant casting, often in windy conditions, draining the angler’s reserves. Kingfish are known for their fighting ability and once hooked on the relatively light tackle, they can lead their pursuers a merry dance. Having gone to such efforts, most anglers get a couple of quick photographs and then release the fish.
Grant Dixon – editor, NZ Fishing News
VENTURE OUT TO WHARARIKI BEACH
Tucked just beneath Cape Farewell, Wharariki Beach begs to have its photo taken. The sand is pillow soft and glowing white, the Archway Islands with the well-documented rock hole jut from deep blue waters, and the occasional seal pup puts on a show in the shallow water. Even the 15-minute walk in is pretty. Wander along the farm track next to the doe-eyed cows, well used to sharing their paddocks, and down the sandy dunes. Even the most spoilt-for-choice, well-traveled visitor will find it hard to say this is just another beach.
From Puponga, follow Wharariki Road right to the carpark. Drive with care – it is partly gravel. The track is well signposted.
WALK THE GROVE
A visit to The Grove is a perfect way to tick off many of Golden Bay’s unique experiences at once. Enormous limestone rocks moulded and carved by water over an unthinkable number of years? Check. Sprawling Northern rata perched on the tops of said limestone rocks? Check. Nikau palms so tall they put a crick in the neck? Check. Panoramic views over Golden Bay? The Grove has it all. It’s a favourite with locals not only because it’s close to Takaka and a gentle 20-minute walk, but because of its intriguing Jurassic Park-like landscape.
The Grove is also one of the first South Island locations of Project Crimson, the charity that funds the protection and regeneration of native rata and pohutukawa. Drive towards Pohara Beach from Takaka. There’s a signpost on the main road marking the location.
14 Rocklands Road, Clifton.
This is an extract from the 2018 edition of the Insider’s Guide to New Zealand. For more on interesting and unusual things to do around the country, pick up a copy of the Insider’s Guide, on sale now or available online here.
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