Golden Bay sits to the north west of Tasman Bay and the city of Nelson and Abel Tasman National Park. One road in and one road out make this a destination that requires a little more planning and determination to visit than other areas of the South Island but for those who do the reward is stunning vistas of rugged mountains, green valleys and miles of golden sand beaches. Farewell Spit which sits off the northern tip of the bay and this is the longest sand spit in the country at 25 km. It is also a nature reserve and an internationally-renowned bird sanctuary with over 90 bird species recorded in the area. Every spring, thousands of wading birds arrive from the northern hemisphere. Other birds range from black swans to sparrows. Penguins also breed in the area.
Farewell Spit Nature Reserve is a bird sanctuary and wetland of international importance, around 35km long and public access is restricted to the first 4km. More strictly protected than a national park, vehicle access is granted only to supervised tours. Onetahua is the Maori name for Farewell Spit and translated means "heaped up sand".
The Farewell Spit Eco Tour which, as well as exploring the spit, stops in Puponga and at the most northern point on the South island, Cape Farewell. From the cliff top, seals and their pups can be seen all year basking on the rocks below. At the Farewell Spit Lighthouse there is time to explore around the historic buildings and enjoy the refreshments provided in the century old lighthouse keepers' residence. Along the beach you have stunning views of the Tasman coastline and the opportunity to climb the sand dune at Mullet Channel for panoramic views of the inter-tidal plain and a stop at Fossil Point, where fossilised shells and worm casts emerge from blocks of mudstone cliffs.
This tour begins with a scenic drive to Lake Rotoiti in Nelson Lakes National Park, which protects the northern section of the Southern Alps. During the Ice Age, massive glaciers gouged out basins in the mountainous headwaters of the Buller River to form a series of alpine lakes.
The steep, craggy, and bare-faced mountains and shingle fans lend a dramatic atmosphere to the park but at their base near the lake, you will take a gentle walk through the beautiful beech forest. This is the perfect place to see conservation in action and the results of an intensive pest trapping and eradication program.
You will experience the vivid birdsong and the rejuvenated forest understory returning to its pre-European condition that has allowed the re-introduction of kiwi & kaka and improved the breeding conditions of robins, tomtits, and rifleman, New Zealand’s smallest bird, as well as other birds and insects.
Enjoy a scenic drive across the Waimea Plains, the Moutere Hills, and on to Kaiteriteri. Here, join a cruise along the coastline of Abel Tasman National Park, passing golden sand beaches, Split Apple Rock, Adele Island wildlife sanctuary, and Fur Seal colonies before arriving at the beautiful beach of Totaranui. Exploring Golden Bay, see the best spots including Te Waikoropupu Springs - home to some of the clearest fresh water in the world before enjoying the return drive home with its stunning views across Takaka Hill. This is an all-inclusive tour, including refreshments and a gourmet picnic lunch.
Travel over the productive Waimea Plains, through the historic Upper Moutere and up Takaka Hill. The first short walk is through ancient granite and marble rock outcrops and into a quaint forest remnant for a spectacular view back towards Nelson. The taonga, Te Waikoropupu Springs are the largest freshwater springs in New Zealand, the largest cold water springs in the southern hemisphere, and is the clearest water ever measured in the world. This small area surrounding the springs is wahi tapu, a place held in high cultural and spiritual regard, is steeped in gold mining history and is the perfect place to observe the many stages of re-vegetation of a unique indigenous forest that contains a huge collection of plants including mature beech and podocarp trees and plants found nowhere else.
View the Golden sands of Ligar Bay then feast on a gourmet lunch on Tata Beach before overlooking a mussel farm, Wainui Bay, and Abel Tasman National Park.
Explore the spectacular Abel Tasman National Park with Golden Bay Kayaks. Leave from Tata Beach in Golden Bay for a fun-filled tour of the local culture, heritage and ecological diversity. Visit New Zealand's largest shag colony, paddle through a magnificent granite archway and explore the areas beautiful beaches. A great tour for the family, enjoy an incredible day on the ocean with your friendly and knowledgeable guides.
Fly over the spectacular Kahurangi National Park to Golden Bay. Land on Mt Olympus, which is extremely remote and can only be accessed by helicopter. The area sprouts rocky outcrops which over time have been eroded by weather to form incredible columnar shapes, formations that were used to portray the 'South of Rivendell' in the Lord of the Rings - where the nine travellers hid from the crebain crows of Saruman. Marvel at the spectacular views and unique landscape before your return flight to Nelson.
Be immersed in some of the incredible scenery from Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings. Begin this spectacular flight heading north-west over Golden Bay to land on Mt Olympus and explore the ‘South of Rivendell.’ You’ll then fly towards Mount Owen over the vast Kahurangi Park. Land once more to see rugged terrain recognisable from the scene ‘exit from the mines of Moria.’ You’ll have the opportunity to take photographs before heading back to Nelson, flying over Tasman Bay.