There is much to see in this hidden corner of New Zealand.
The area is full of scenic contrasts: from smooth shifting sand dunes, to rugged glaciated mountain valleys; from placid seaside beaches to bubbling fresh water springs; from luscious green lowland pastures to untouched high alpine meadows and forests; from water-worn limestone caves, crags and canyons to wind-shorn coastal cliffs.
Farewell Spit, a nature reserve formed entirely from sand, is the result of the erosion of granites, schists and other rocks on the West Coast. At the recently established gannet colony, the preferred nesting sites are on the low sand dunes. This is unique, as all other worldwide colonies are on rocky outcrops - and, being right at sea level, the Farewell Spit colony affords an excellent eye-to-eye view.
- Drive out to the dramatic, wild West Coast through thick native bush interspersed with bright red flowering rata trees. Here, the land eventually meets the Tasman Sea
- Visit the vast estuary of the Whanganui Inlet, an ever-changing tidal flood plain
- Swim, sail and kayak on any number of beautiful, calm, protected beaches
- Walk to Wharariki Beach. Exposed to vicious coastal winds, this beach has staggering rock formations together with huge white sand dunes. It is also a haven for fur seals and birds
- Hike anywhere in Abel Tasman or Kahurangi National Park. The Heaphy track is one of NZ's “great walks”
- Eat the local mussels and scallops, and try a Captain Cooker Manuka beer at the Mussel Inn. It's got to be one of the best home brews anywhere
- Catch a water taxi to Awaroa Lodge for a tasty lunch
Facts at a glance
- Farewell Spit is one of New Zealand's most important wading bird habitats. Over 90 species of birds have been recorded, with godwits and knots the most numerous.
- The sacred Te Waikoropupu (Pupu) Springs is the largest in New Zealand, with a flow of up to 21 cubic meters per second.
- Manuka beer was brewed for the first time over 200 years ago. The sailors under Captain James Cook, British explorer, were the first to taste manuka beer, made from the leaves of the manuka plant, or the New Zealand “tea tree”.
- Many of New Zealand's top sculptors, painters, potters and, jewellery-makers have made Golden Bay their home.
- In 1642, Abel Tasman (the first European to set foot in NZ) named this area Murderers Bay after a violent encounter with the Maori. The name was later changed to Golden Bay, associating the place with the discovery of gold in 1857, rather than its bloody past.
This beautiful, luxury villa is actually situated on the beachfront at Patons Rock in Golden Bay. Literally no more than fifteen or twenty steps or so and you will be wiggling your toes in the sand and catching your breath as you take in the view
Set in the heart of Abel Tasman National Park, Awaroa Lodge offers a unique beach and bush destination