Top Tours in Golden Bay, New Zealand

Golden bay tours.

  • Sightseeing Tours
  • Walking Tours
  • Speed Boats Tours
  • Kayaking & Canoeing
  • 4WD, ATV & Off-Road Tours
  • Hiking & Camping Tours
  • Nature & Wildlife Tours
  • Private Tours
  • Multi-day Tours
  • Good for Couples
  • Adventurous
  • Good for Kids
  • Good for Big Groups
  • Budget-friendly
  • Honeymoon spot
  • Good for Adrenaline Seekers
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  • Good for a Rainy Day
  • Things to do ranked using Tripadvisor data including reviews, ratings, photos, and popularity.

golden bay tours

1. Golden Bay Kayaks

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2. Farewell Spit Eco Tours

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3. Golden Bay Air

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4. Charlie's Discovery Speedboat Trips

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5. Kahurangi Guided Walks

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6. Wildcat Charters

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7. Gold Hunting Adventures

What travellers are saying.

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  • Heli-Picnic The Wild North West
  • Gold Hunting Adventures
  • Kiwi Spirit Distillery Golden Bay - Visit New Zealand's only Tequila Farm!
  • Golden Bay Air
  • Golden Bay Kayaks
  • Charlie's Discovery Speedboat Trips
  • Farewell Spit Eco Tours
  • Kahurangi Guided Walks

Farewell Spit Tours

Sand dunes & panoramic views

A highlight of the trip along the spit beach is the opportunity to stop and climb one of the low sand dunes that run down the spine of the spit. From the top of the dunes a 360 degree view unfolds. Discover more...

Lighthouse

The historic lighthouse is located about 27 kms along the beach, almost at the seaward end of Farewell Spit.  Discover more...

Gannet Colony

Gannet colony

The Australasian Gannet colony, a short way past the lighthouse, is New Zealand's newest mainland gannet colony.  Discover more...

wader watch image

Wader Watch Area

The Wader Watch Area is an ideal spot to view birds like bar-tailed godwits, knots, turnstones and other arctic waders.  Discover more...

Fossil Point morning sun

Fossil Point

Fossil Point is a beautiful meeting place of ocean and land. Look closely here and you'll see small fossilised shells and worms outlined in the rock at the base of the cliffs.  Discover more...

Cape Farewell

Cape Farewell

Cape Farewell is the northern-most point of the South Island. Peep over the edge of the dramatically sculpted quartz sandstone cliffs and you may see lazy New Zealand Fur Seals soaking up the sun on a rocky ledge far below.  Discover more...

Farewell Spit Tours - Gannet

Welcome to Farewell Spit Tours

Farewell Spit Nature Reserve is a bird sanctuary and wetland of international importance, being more strictly protected than a national park.

Farewell Spit is around 35km long and public access is restricted to the first 4km. Vehicle access is only allowed for supervised tours by concession holders. Through sharing the experience of visiting Farewell Spit we can help to raise public awareness of this extraordinary ecosystem, so vital for our migratory birds.

Come with us to this special place, where you can view the historic lighthouse and explore its intriguing reserve. The Farewell Spit Tour, our most popular, departs from Collingwood and visits Cape Farewell (the South Island’s most northern point) and Fossil Point, and also includes our Lighthouse tour.

Feel free to explore our Discovery page where you will find incredibly interesting places such as Cape Farewell , Fossil Point , the Wader Watch area , the sand dune environment , the Lighthouse and the Gannet Colony at the tip of the spit.

The Complete Guide to Visiting New Zealand's Golden Bay

golden bay tours

Tim Clayton Corbis / Getty Images

Getting There

Where to stay, farewell spit, wharariki beach, te waikoropupu springs, abel tasman national park, ngarua caves, rawhiti cave, wainui falls track.

  • The Mussel Inn

Golden Bay, in the north-west corner of New Zealand’s South Island, is an area of extreme natural beauty. It was one of the first places in New Zealand where Maori and Europeans interacted (Dutch explorer Abel Tasman came here in 1642), and it still has a frontier vibe and a feeling of being somewhat ‘apart’ from the rest of New Zealand. With forested mountains surrounding the area that don’t meet the ocean, and only one access road, getting to Golden Bay is a bit of an adventure, but a highly rewarding one. Here’s what you need to know about visiting Golden Bay.

There are three ways to get to Golden Bay:

  • By air from Nelson or Wellington to the tiny Golden Bay Airport just outside Takaka. Flights are generally quite expensive, and airplanes small.
  • By car (or shuttle service) over the Takaka Hill road along State Highway 60 from Motueka and Nelson. Nelson is the largest city in the northern South Island, and many travelers spend some time here before driving to Golden Bay. The Takaka Hill road is the only road into Golden Bay. It is twisting and narrow in places and can be a challenging drive in wet or icy conditions, but experienced drivers making the trip when the weather is good are unlikely to have any significant problems. The views are also spectacular, and there are many places to stop to check them out.
  • On foot. Golden Bay is bordered in the east by the Abel Tasman National Park , on the south by the Kahurangi National Park, and on the west by the North West Nelson Conservation Park. These parks contain some of New Zealand’s best-loved long-distance treks, including the Abel Tasman Coast Track (3-5 days) and the Heaphy Track (4-6 days) through the Kahurangi National Park. Travelers can either begin these walks in Golden Bay or end there.

If you want to travel between attractions in Golden Bay, having your own transport is essential. Like elsewhere in New Zealand—mainly rural areas—there’s limited public transport or shuttle options, and if you don’t have your own wheels, what you can do and see will be very limited.

There are two main settlements in Golden Bay: Takaka and Collingwood. Collingwood is about 16 miles further along the highway from Takaka. Takaka is larger, with a range of accommodation options, and a main street with several cafes, shops, and other businesses. Collingwood is much smaller, with fewer sleeping and dining options but lovely views of the Ruataniwha Inlet. There are other small settlements throughout Golden Bay with some accommodation options, but these can't be called towns.

Whether you choose to stay in Takaka or Collingwood should depend on what you want to see and do. Staying in Takaka gives you easier access to the western side of the Abel Tasman National Park. Collingwood is better situated for access to Farewell Spit and Wharariki Beach.

In either place there’s a range of accommodation to suit various budgets, from campsites to more upmarket boutique hotels (although no major chains here!)

Farewell Spit feels like the end of the earth because it practically is. Anyone lucky enough to fly over Golden Bay on a north-south (or vice versa) flight over New Zealand is likely to have seen the spit from the air, reaching out into the Cook Strait and the Tasman Sea. The long strip of land is an important bird sanctuary and nature reserve, with more than 90 bird species found here, including penguins. As such, you can only travel along the spit on a Department of Conservation-approved tour.

Redefining the word "windswept," Wharariki Beach is an enormous sweep of beach and dunes on the northern edge of Golden Bay, just west of the start of Farewell Spit. If you go at low tide, you can walk along the beach (if you can withstand the wind!), or horse treks can also be arranged. Even at high tide, you can admire the views from further up in the dunes. Getting to the beach requires an easy 20-minute walk over farmland, which helps build a sense of anticipation for visiting what is one of New Zealand's most beautiful beaches .

While New Zealand is famous for its bubbling hot springs, these spectacular cold springs are quite different, and perhaps more surprising. Pupu Springs (as they’re known) are a short drive from Takaka and are sacred to the local Maori people. There are signs asking visitors not to touch the water, which you really should obey. From the carpark, a boardwalk through forest and over streams leads to the springs, which are deep blue and turquoise, extraordinarily clear and vibrant with underwater plant life that thrives on the bubbling freshwaters.

If you’re dazzled by Pupu Springs and want to see more, the Riuwaka Resurgence is another similar, though smaller, spring of cold and clear water. It’s the start of the Riuwaka River. While the Resurgence itself isn’t far beneath the summit of Takaka Hill, on the way into Golden Bay, you can only drive there along the Riwaka Valley Road, north of Motueka, on the Tasman Bay side.

New Zealand’s smallest national park is also one of its most popular. Many people access the park from the eastern, Tasman Bay side, but trekkers who complete the full three-to-five-day Coast Track normally exit the park on the Golden Bay side. There are many gorgeous gold and white-sand beaches throughout the park, and as well as hiking, kayaking is a popular way to tour the coastline.

At the top of the Takaka Hill on the way to Golden Bay from Motueka, there’s a sweeping view of Tasman Bay by the Ngarua Caves sign. Many people just stop here to admire the view, but if you continue down the track, you’ll come to these lovely caves, which offer daily guided tours in season, and by appointment at other times. As well as the expected stalactites and stalagmites, visitors can also see ancient animal and bird bones.

Quite different from the Ngarua Caves, the Rawhiti Caves have some of the most diverse entrance flora of any caves in New Zealand, as well as stalactites that grow towards the light at the entrance. The carpark to the caves is about 15 minutes’ drive from Takaka, and you’ll need to hike for about an hour to get to the caverns themselves, along a reasonably rough track (avoid going in the wet).

The hiking track to Golden Bay’s largest waterfalls , on the northern end of the Abel Tasman National Park, is especially popular with families, as it’s not too challenging and quite short (about 90 minutes return). It provides a sample of the longer forested trails of the Abel Tasman National Park that family travelers may otherwise miss out on if they’re unable to do a multi-day trek with kids. The trail passes through beautiful native bush, including nikau palms and ferns. The falls themselves are about 65 feet high.

Eat and Drink at Mussel Inn

There isn’t a huge range of dining options in Golden Bay because of its small population (only about 5,000 inhabitants). But, the Mussel Inn is famous, and one of the best places to eat around here. A few minutes’ drive from Collingwood, the cozy inn has a crackling fireplace for colder days and lots of outdoor garden seating for sunny weather. The menu is simple and consists of local delicacies like green-lipped mussels served with garlic bread. They also brew their own beer and host frequent evening live music events.

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Abel Tasman

Separated from the rest of the world by one big ol’ hill, the isolation of Golden Bay is one of its biggest charms.

Unique, isolated & utterly charming, golden bay is separated from the rest of new zealand by takaka hill which can cause problems for anybody susceptible to carsickness.  whatever the temporary discomfort, the trip to golden bay is always worth it.  , full of lush green valleys, dairy farms, and long sweeping bays, the natural environment is stunning. there really is no other part of new zealand quite like golden bay.  it may have the more artists and creative types per capita than any other part of the country, but it is also home to some very traditional rural communities..

Takaka, a charming rural village, is the largest town in Golden Bay with a population of just over 1,300 people.  Collingwood is an even smaller village, located on a sometimes wild and windswept beach, flanked on another side by a large tidal estuary.  There are other small communities and holiday houses scattered along the coast around the large crescent shaped bay that is Golden Bay.

Golden Bay has a charm and vibe very much of its own, and is quite unlike anywhere else on the planet.  Local residents seem to have invented and installed a large scale anti-stress device somewhere in the area as it is physically impossible not to feel relaxed and at ease in the place.  Golden Bay is another favourite holiday spot for locals and visitors from overseas looking for somewhere off the beaten track.

Golden Bay is the northern access point for the Abel Tasman National Park.

Golden Bay has some of the most remote, wild and wonderful spots in New Zealand.  The western coast is full of long, windswept beaches, huge sand dunes, massive wetland areas, huge tidal estuaries, and rocky outcrops that belong to another planet.

Wharariki is perhaps the most accessible of these beaches, but is still a 20 minute walk across farmland from an unsealed road.  It is well worth the effort though with an amazing, beautiful beach, funky rock formations and a large NZ fur seal colony.

Further down the coast is the expansive Whanganui Inlet, a wonderful combination of tidal estuary, and wetlands.  The fishing out this far is wonderful because it’s well protected by the weather.  Recreational boats can only access the outer areas of the coast across a sandbar that is only passable under certain weather conditions.  Further down the coast is Anatori, a remote and stunning camping spot.

Much of this western area of Golden Bay is the Kahurangi National Park.  In addition to the Heaphy Track, another of New Zealand’s Great Walks, the Kahurangi is full of hiking trails, huts and some of New Zealand’s very best backcountry areas.

There are lots of fun family things to do and places to visit in “the bay”. An abundance of nature and good weather make it easy to plan and enjoy family time together.

The long thin piece of land that pokes out from the South Island’s north-western corner is Farewell Spit.  Farewell Spit Nature Reserve is a bird sanctuary and wetland of international importance.  The Spit is around 35km long and public access is restricted to the first 4km with vehicle access only allowed for supervised tours by concession holders. Farewell Spit Eco Tours   run awesome guided trips from Collingwood. 

The historic Langford Store in Bainham is well worth a visit. The store has been in the same family for generations, since it opened in 1928. EB Langford was the initial proprietor, followed by his grand-daughter Lorna who ran the store and post office for 63 years.

Langford Stire- Bainham - Golden Bay

 After a cuppa and a scone at the store, it’s a short drive to the Salisbury Falls swimming hole. This is a remarkably beautiful spot in the river with extraordinarily deep swimming holes, and big rocks from which to jump into the aforementioned swimming holes.  It also has the largest supply of the small flat stones that are perfect for skimming (skipping to our friends from the US of A). Visitors have been known to skim stones for so long their arms end up hurting for days afterwards.

The Wainui Falls Track , located just inside the National Park is an excellent walk for young families.  It includes a nice little suspension bridge and the rather picturesque waterfall at the end.

Just north of Takaka is the rather remarkable Te Waikoropupū Springs or Pupu Springs for short. These are the largest freshwater springs in New Zealand, the largest cold water springs in the Southern Hemisphere and they contain some of the clearest water ever measured.  The spring discharges 14,000 litres of water per second (trust me, that’s a lot).  They are also rather pretty to look at and the little bush walk to get there is nice too!

Pupu Springs - Golden Bay

The qualities of the water from Te Waikoropupu Springs are of considerable scientific interest. In 1993, The National Institute for Water and Atmosphere (NIWA) carried out optical measurements underwater and found that the visibility was 63 metres.  More recent tests have put the visibility at 80 metres. This is very close to optically pure water, with clearer water found only beneath Antarctica’s near-frozen Weddell Sea. The water clarity is a result of natural filtering prior to the water’s emergence at the Springs.

Located just before you reach Takaka is Anatoki Salmon Fishing & Cafe.   When you arrive here you arm yourself with a fishing rod and then attempt to catch yourself a meal in a person-made lake populated with salmon raised on the property.  Once you’ve caught yourself a fish, you take it back to the cafe where it cleaned ready to take away and cook yourself, or to have it hot smoked while you wait.  This is an ideal and fun introduction to fishing for kids as it’s as close to a ‘sure thing’ as it gets.

Golden Bay attracts rock climbers from all over the world looking to access the renowned limestone crags in the area.  There are two main crag options for climbing in Golden Bay, with a few other off-track spots scattered around the place.

However, between the bush clad limestone bluffs of Paynes Ford and the sunbaked Pohara Sea Cliffs there are over 300 climbs to keep climbers entertained for many weeks. Located just outside Takaka is a campground that caters specifically to outdoors enthusiast who doesn’t mind living cheap and easy. The generally easy going rock climbing community congregate at Hangdog to share stories and experiences, in between their adventures.

As you drive into Takaka you will be struck by how many art galleries line the main road.  This will give you an initial indication of just how many creative people call Golden Bay home.  The fact you can live cheaply in Golden Bay, and that housing has always been comparatively affordable has drawn artists to the area for many decades. Let’s face it, creating pieces of art is not always the easiest way to make a living.

In addition to the galleries that line the main drag in Takaka, you will spot signs for galleries all over Golden Bay.  By way of example, Onekaka Arts is an excellent carver’s studio and shop for local jade (Greenstone or Pounamu to locals) and unique jewellery.   A short distance from Onekaka is Living Light Candles the perfect place to pick up the perfect gift! Estuary Arts has an extensive range of artwork in ceramic and glass, as well as acrylic and watercolour paintings. Peter Geen does incredible landscape paintings of places around Golden Bay that they look like photographs, only much, much cooler! The listings above are a small selection of the incredible arts and crafts available in Golden Bay.  The best way to discover the work of local artists is to wander through the galleries and stores in Takaka, or to cruise around the roads of Golden Bay stopping each time you see a gallery signposted!

Ngarua Caves is a visitor attraction right at the top of the Takaka Hill. The Caves make a perfect rest stop if your stomach needs some recovery time after having come up either side of the Takaka Hill.  However, it is also well worth the visit in its own right. 

The Caves have an extensive variety of stalagmites and stalactites, some of which can look rather phallic if that’s the way your mind works!  The Caves also contain an excellent skeletal display of the extinct moa, a large flightless bird.  Before hungry humans wiped them out, moa would sometimes fall through holes to the floor of the caves below, and it is the remains on these birds you will see. Located on the property is also a huge, truly remarkable piece of local jade.

The Abel Tasman National Park is the most recognised attraction of the region but once you’re here, there are plenty of other places to explore.

Kaiteriteri - Nelson Tasman region

golden bay tours

  • NZ: +64 9 930 7682
  • AU: 1800 953 040

golden bay tours

Golden Bay & Marlborough

7 days / 6 nights

The Golden Bay & Marlborough Tour is the best way to experience the top of the South Island.

Enjoy two 2 night stays (in Golden Bay and Blenheim) and leisurely pace to the travel.

The tour includes a full day tour out on Farewell Spit and Cape Farewll, a cruise Tasman Bay, visit the spectacular Omaka Aviation Museum, and enjoy a wine tasting at a Marlborough vineyard.

Tours include home pickup & return with in Christchurch, and return airfare packages including door to door service / home pickup from an incredible range of areas.

per person, twin share

Solo travellers (same gender) are matched for twin share at no extra cost.

NZD $795 Single Supplement

(to guarantee a single room)

Return Airfare Packages from $199 per person  (including door to door service – home pickup/dropoff)

EX: Auckland, Wellington + MORE.

Maruia Falls

Departure Dates

21 Feb 2024

20 Mar 2024

Door to Door Service + Flight & Transfer Options

Hotel or home pickup and return from Christchurch included on this tour.

Gold Club Tours offers a door to door service from a wide range of areas throughout New Zealand.

Return flights (incl door to door service / home pickup & return) from Auckland, Wellington + more from $199 per person.

Pickup Locations

  • Christchurch

Hotel or home pickup and return from Christchurch included.

Return flights (incl door to door service / home pickup & return) from Auckland, Wellington + more $199 per person.

If your area is not listed below, please contact us to find out if we can offer this for you – we look for reasons to say yes, not no.

Flights Packages

Return flights (incl door to door service / home pickup & return) are available from Auckland, Wellington + MORE.

Auckland & Wellington $199 per person ( Others  from  $199 per person).

* subject to airfares availability and flight times. Enquire with us via phone or email.

Travel Insurance

Gold Club Tours always recommend that guests take out travel insurance. This is important whether it is for international or domestic travel. In the event you are unable to travel before or during a tour, cancellation terms apply – take out insurance to protect yourself.

Tour Itinerary

golden bay tours

Christchurch, Hanmer Springs

This morning, you will be picked up from your nominated address, then head off to join the rest of your group for an easy coach journey to Hanmer Springs. Departing Christchurch in the early afternoon, we travel north past Leithfield and Amberley. Waipara is known for it’s vineyards and olive groves. The highway continues through farm land and gentle hill country, crossing the Hurunui River and passing through Balmoral Forest. The last part of the journey follows the Waiau River, stopping at the Hanmer Springs Bridge for a view of the river with its majestic cliff faces. Arriving in Hanmer Springs, a destination known for relaxation, we check-in and take some time to relax. This evening, enjoy dinner in the hotel restaurant with your new companions.

Stay:  Hanmer Springs Hotel

golden bay tours

Hanmer Springs – Maruia Falls – Golden Bay

Today, we enjoy breakfast in the hotel before we set off for our scenic journey to Golden Bay. Our road follows various rivers along the way, including the Maruia River – where we make a stop at the beautiful Maruia Falls. The Lewis Pass takes us through Beech forest, and after Springs Junction, we’ll travel along a beautiful section of road that leads you through the enchanting Lewis Pass Scenic Reserve, which has New Zealand’s largest natural population of Kakariki. Heading into the Abel Tasman region, we will turn towards Highway 60. Experiencing the long, slow climb over Takaka Hill (The ‘Marble Mountain’). The fabulous view of Golden Bay will keep you entertained. Arriving at our accommodation for the next 2 nights, we’ll check in and head out to dinner.

Stay:  Mohua Motel Golden Bay

golden bay tours

Farewell Spit & Cape Farewell Eco Tour

After breakfast, we head north to the famous Farewell Spit. We move from our tour coach to our special offroad vehicles for a full day exploration of the dunes, the lighthouse and the northernmost point of the South Island, Cape Farewell. Farewell Spit Nature reserve is a bird sanctuary and wetland of international importance, being more strictly protected than a national park. The Spit is around 35km long, and only the first 4km has public access. Cape Farewell boasts dramatic cliff-top views, and seals and their pups can be seen all year basking on the rocks below. The spectacular coastal cliffs have an unusual geologic formation, with strata-lines of the layers which would normally be horizontal instead vertical.  We are guided by a local expert who will enable us access to visit this special place and Cape Farewell. We head to Fossil Point, at the foot of the Spit, a popular hauling out place for fur seals. The area is aptly named as fossilised shells and wormcasts emerge from blocks of mudstone at the base of the cliffs and sea life abounds in rock pools nearby. Further along the ocean beach we stop at the Lighthouse reserve, where we enjoy a 45 minute stop to view the lighthouse and pouwhenua, and discover the connection between the local Iwi and Onetahua (Farewell Spit). At the end of the day, we will return to the hotel to freshen up, before departing for dinner at a restaurant. 

After breakfast we’ll set off for Te Waikoropupu Springs. A short loop walk goes through the forest to a platform that sits partly over the water of Te Waikoropupū Springs. Discharging 14,000 litres of water per second, the springs are New Zealand’s largest freshwater springs and the largest coldwater springs in the southern hemisphere. They contain some of the clearest water ever measured. Arriving in Kaiteriteri and the Abel Tasman National Park, we depart from picturesque Kaiteriteri Beach on a scenic cruise right into the bays, islands and beaches of the majestic Abel Tasman National Park. You’ll get a chance to see and photograph the world-famous Split Apple Rock from close up, see native Fur Seals (Kekeno) in their natural habitat, marvel at the golden sands and the turquoise waters of the Astrolabe Roadstead, Anchorage, Bark Bay and Medlands beach all before you return to Kaiteriteri. At the conclusion of our cruise, we rejoin our tour coach and make our way to Nelson. We visit a local art gallery before arriving at our hotel, where we check in for the evening.

Stay:  Trailways Hotel Nelson

golden bay tours

Marlborough, Winery Visit & Tasting, Blenheim

After breakfast, we will explore Nelson at leisure for the morning, then head through to the Marlborough region. The drive to Blenheim is both beautiful and interesting, coastal views giving way to lush forests and vineyards. We’ll visit a local winery, and learn how Marlborough became New Zealand’s largest and most famous wine region. We’ll check into our hotel and enjoy a delicious dinner on site. 

Stay:  Chateau Marlborough Hotel or Scenic Hotel Marlborough (or similar)

golden bay tours

Blenheim – Omaka Aviation Museum Visit & Tour

This morning after breakfast, we’ll head off to the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre for a guided in-depth tour. Omaka presents two outstanding exhibitions. The original Knights of the Sky exhibition, featuring Sir Peter Jackson’s own collection of WW1 aircraft and artifacts. This story of aviation in the Great War is brought to life in sensational sets created by the internationally acclaimed WingNut Films and Weta Workshop.  The second exhibition ‘Dangerous Skies’, featuring stories from World War II, these are tales of daring, valour and tragedy stretching from the British Isles to the forests of Germany, an embattled but courageous Russia and the Pacific Islands. 

golden bay tours

Blenheim – Kaikōura - Christchurch

After breakfast we depart for Christchurch. Travelling along the SH1 Coastal Road which offers panoramic views of the coastline. We make a stop in Kaikōura, famous for the Kaikōura Whale Watch and a popular spot to try locally sourced crayfish. Then departing Kaikoura, we continue on to Christchurch. On arrival in Christchurch you are met and transferred to your home address or homeward flight.

Tour Inclusions

  • ALL Dinners & Cooked Breakfasts
  • Quality 3 & 4 Star Accommodation
  • No Oversized Groups – Minimum 6 Unoccupied Seats
  • Minimum 35 Seats Tour Vehicle
  • Door to Door Service from  vast range of areas.
  • All Listed Sights & Admissions
  • Prices per person, based on sharetwin – single supplement available.

Tour Highlights

  • Hanmer Springs
  • Cape Farewell & Farewell Spit Tour
  • Abel Tasman National Park
  • Omaka Aviation Museum
  • Cruise Tasman Bay
  • Marlborough Winery & Tasting

Tour Reviews

Tour Leader

Our leader Graham was first class, helpful, informative and a lot of fun.

Cynthia Gibson , Kohimarama, Auckland

Accommodation

Incredibly comfortable and well appointed.

Lewis & Helen Woodburn, Remuera, Auckland

Cooked breakfasts at every location. Ample food selections available.

Stuart & Deb McKenzie, Tamatea, Napier

Dinners were exceptional. Especially in Takaka where the chefs interacted with us, explaining the different varieties. Fantastic!

Rebecca Gudmundsen, Ngongotaha, Rotorua

Tour Vehicles

The tour coach was superb and our driver John Gould was a true professional. His driving was faultless and he took a real pride in his coach.

Carl Southern , Henderson, Auckland

Included Activities & Admissions

Exactly what I had signed up for.

Home Pickup

Prompt, courteous, comfortable.

Peter Sledmere, Hataitai, Wellington

Home Dropoff

Very professional, and what helpful and kind drivers.

Value For Money

Tour totally exceeded my expectations – definitely value for money.

Allan Sendles, Remuera, Auckland

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Top 10 Things To Do In Takaka & Golden Bay

  • Visit Nelson Tasman
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Golden Bay & Takaka

  • Top 10 - Takaka & Golden Bay

golden bay tours

1. Journey the length of Farewell Spit

At a whopping 34km long, one of the largest natural sandspits in the world has formed at the top of the South Island, the result of continuous coastal erosion and oceanic drift from the West. The Spit forms the ‘birds eye view’ of  Golden Bay  into the shape of New Zealand’s very own national bird - the kiwi - and it is home to over 90 wetland and migratory bird species of its own... how’s that for irony? As a dedicated wetland of international importance, Farewell Spit is what we like to call paradise for nature lovers, and is home to gannets, godwits, knots, and waders, as well as playful seal pups and cheeky oyster-catchers. A trip to the Spit with  Farewell Spit Tours  just wouldn’t be complete without a leisurely climb to the crest of the undulating sand dunes, before a speedy descent to the base, racing against the wind-wrought ripples that lay before you.

Te Waikoropupu Springs 15mb7

2. Visit Te Waikoropupū Springs

Just a short distance from the  Takaka  township, you’ll find the extraordinary  Te Waikoropupū Springs . Holding the title as the largest freshwater springs in New Zealand, and the largest coldwater springs in the Southern Hemisphere, this wahi tapu (sacred place) is considered a taonga (treasure) by local Māori, and is held in high cultural and spiritual regard. Although you cannot swim in the springs, or even so much as glide your finger across the surface, it is easy to appreciate its allure when it contains some of the clearest water ever measured. A vibrant community of eels and native fish can be seen darting around underneath the bubbling surface, and the senses are awakened with the sweet sound of birdsong emerging from the depths of the manuka and kanuka forest.

golden bay tours

3. Dine like the locals

If there's one thing you'll find in Golden Bay it's good hearty food and a laid-back dining experience. The Mussel Inn is a favourite with the locals, k nown for their freshly steamed mussels and quirky but relaxed vibe. The internationally famous live music venue hosts a full and vibrant entertainment calendar, and has everything you need for a fun and authentic Golden Bay experience; from a large open fire for those cold winter nights, to sturdy tables for dancing on, and a comprehensive selection of homemade beverages. Other popular dining destinations include Roots Bar in Takaka, Old School Cafe in Collingwood and Toto's Pizzeria in Wainui. There are also plenty of great distilleries in the area that are well worth checking out. 

Wainui Falls taken by Ryan Domenico credit www.nelsontasman.nz

4. Take a short stroll

Stunning natural landscapes abound in Golden Bay, so you'll want to allow enough time to explore some of these scenic locations. The picture perfect Wainui Falls   can be reached with a short one-hour return walk through lush native bush. Shaded by overhanging nikau palms, the stroll along the banks of the flowing Wainui River is both a relaxing and mesmerising experience, until your senses are awakened by the thundering sound of the falls as they cascade down granite bedrock into the deep blue pool below, curtained in a halo of spray. Labyrinth Rocks Park and The Grove Scenic Reserve offer a spectacular experience as you walk through limestone outcrops, with the lookout from The Grove nothing short of extraordinary and the magical shapes, faces and little figurines discoverable at Labyrinth Rocks sure to ignite the imagination of curious little ones. 

Photo: Ryan Domenico

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5. Kayak around pristine, quiet bays

Exploring the extraordinary coastline by kayak is as good as you imagined, but better with Golden Bay Kayaks . The only company operating guided tours into the Abel Tasman National Park from the North, they are a small family-focused company operating from the beautiful Tata Beach . Slip straight into the clear waters, paddle around the Tata Islands, watch the seals frolicking in the rock-pools and enjoy the peace and quiet of this pristine paradise. Everyone's appetite for kayaking is catered for whether you are looking for a morning of stories with friendly, local guides or to share special times with your family. You may want to treat yourself with a Bespoke Eco Private Tour or take your time and explore the entire length of the Abel Tasman National Park on a multi-day trip.

Photo by Kane Hartill

Kane Hartill 2

6. Catch your dinner at Anatoki Salmon

If you enjoy fresh fish, a visit to  Anatoki Salmon  for an authentic and fun family experience will take the meaning of ‘fresh’ to a whole new level. Feel the thrill of catching your own dinner as you spend the afternoon on the banks of the Anatoki River, casting your rod into waters abundant with premium Chinook salmon. Watch as they back-flip out of the water, wiggle their tails on the surface and tease your line with cautious nibbles. Then, choose a picnic spot along the picturesque riverbank to eat your catch, smoked or raw, or take it home with you for a classic kiwi feed, BBQ style. 

golden bay tours

7. See Wharariki Beach

The wonderful, windswept Wharariki Beach rivals the recognised wonders of the world, and it’s easy to see why. A spectacularly rugged coastline and a scattering of arches, caves and sand dunes have formed as a result of its exposed location on the wild northwest of the South Island, and you’ll regularly see seal pups bounding along the sand and twirling playfully in the rockpools. It's just a short 20-minute walk through undulating farmland, manuka groves and coastal forest to the beach, or you could take a longer stroll along the Puponga Hilltop Track if you want to see other gems such as Cape Farewell and the Pillar Point Lighthouse. Top tip: explore the hidden gems of Wharariki on  horseback , cantering across the sand and crossing over the lush green hills of the Puponga Farm park. 

Farewell Spit credit Golden Bay Air2

8. Take a scenic flight

Golden Bay is undoubtedly home to some of New Zealand's most scenic locations, from the majestic sand dunes of Farewell Spit to the crystal-clear springs at Te Waikoropupū Springs and the wild, windswept Wharariki Beach . If you're short on time, or you just want to see these landscapes in all their glory, a scenic flight to see them from above is a truly unforgettable experience. Savour the sights as you trace the sheltered shortline, the dunes and lakes and the rugged mountain landscapes on a scenic flight or helicopter trip , combining a Golden Bay tour with one of the Abel Tasman or Kahurangi National Parks if you wish.

Photo: Golden Bay Air

golden bay tours

9. Go on a caving adventure

From the curious caver right through to the advanced abseiler, Golden Bay has an array of exciting cave systems to explore. A guided tour of  Ngarua Caves  at the summit of Takaka Hill promises a breathtaking experience for the whole family, with a plethora of stalagmites and stalagtites protruding from the cavernous surroundings like shark teeth. For those with a reasonable level of fitness,  Rawhiti Cave  is what we like to call ‘geological eye candy’ and a two-hour return walk will take you to the most diverse limestone entrance and twilight zone flora of any cave in New Zealand, adorned with green and pink plants, moss, algae and stunning phytokarst formations. Last but not least,  Harwoods Hole , an  iconic film location  from the Lord of the Rings and the deepest vertical shaft in New Zealand (176m) is located in the Canaan Downs Scenic Reserve, though there are no barriers and it is very dangerous to approach the edge, so we recommend keeping the children away from this one. 

NRDA Golden Bay 30

10. Explore the arty township

Sometimes we wonder if there’s something magical in the air in  Takaka & Golden Bay , or if the diverse community of  artists and artisans  who choose to call this place home is just a coincidence. The vibrant township, which is adorned with colourful murals, oozes an undeniable passion for the arts; with jewellery stores, boutique stalls, art galleries and glassblowing studios occupying the main drag, with talented artisans selling handcrafted chocolates and distilled beverages. Creativity and character is deeply rooted in the Golden Bay community, and the Saturday Village Market is a true showcase of this, bringing locals and visitors together in a celebration of art and wonder. 

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High country views at Molesworth Station

Molesworth Station, Abel Tasman & Golden Bay

  • New Zealand Tours

7 day small group South Island tour

Enjoy the unique history of New Zealand’s largest farm the Molesworth Station, the world famous Abel Tasman National Park, the charms of sunny Nelson, Farewell Spit and the delights of Golden Bay. 

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Memories of Molesworth Station will be with you always. It’s a once in a lifetime experience to drive this vast farmland on the tracks of early stockmen and travellers.Then contrast this landlocked region with the golden sands of Abel Tasman National Park and Farewell Spit and the relaxed vibe of Golden Bay.

Molesworth Station and Golden Bay Tour Map - MoaTours

Wharariki Beach, Golden Bay

Wharariki Beach, Golden Bay, Nelson Tasman

By Nelson Regional Development Agency

Drive over Takaka Hill and discover a vibrant, artistic community that is also a paradise for nature lovers.

Te Waikoropupu Springs, Nelson

Te Waikoropupu Springs, Golden Bay, Nelson Tasman

Golden Bay

Golden Bay, Nelson Tasman

Golden Bay

By John Doogan

Before you lay eyes on Golden Bay, you'll enjoy an amazingly scenic road journey over the Takaka Hill, known also as 'marble mountain'. There are signposted lookouts along the way and the subterranean marvels of Harwoods Hole (176 metres deep) and the Ngarua Caves shouldn't be missed. Te Waikoropupū Springs (also known as Pupu Springs) are the largest freshwater springs in New Zealand and the largest coldwater springs in the southern hemisphere, with a clarity rating of 75m, meaning they also contain some of the clearest water ever measured. The springs are located on the other side of the hill, near the town of Takaka, and are a 'wahi tapu' - sacred place - to the local Maori tribe. You can take a leisurely stroll around the walkways and read the interpretive panels along the way.

As the road leads west, fabulous views of Golden Bay will keep you entertained. The huge, sandy bay is famous for its scallops. Collingwood is the final settlement of any size before Farewell Spit, a lengthy sandspit at 34km long, that wraps itself around the upper reaches of the bay. The sandspit is a bird sanctuary and wetland of international importance, and is very highly protected. The only way to explore the spit is with Farewell Spit Eco Tours, who can take you on an unforgettable journey to the historic lighthouse, gannet colony and to the northernmost point of the South Island, Cape Farewell. On the Tasman Sea side of Cape Farewell is Wharariki Beach - a wild, beautiful place where wind and waves have created massive rock and sand dune formations. The currents are dangerous so swimming is not recommended, so the ultimate Wharariki experience is undoubtedly a horse trek, although many also choose to take a short 20 minute stroll down to the beach to capture the extraordinary rock formations on camera.

A few days in Golden Bay are simply not enough, and we recommend you take time to immerse yourself in everything there is to offer. There are plenty of local craft stores and artisan fare, waterfalls and nature walks, Lord of the Rings film locations, and if you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can even catch your own dinner at Anatoki Salmon.

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All Golden Bay Experiences Family Friendly Activities Half Day Tours Kayaking Wildlife Tours

At the top of New Zealand's South Island, Golden Bay is a popular destination for outdoor activities, exploring sandy beaches and visiting natural attractions. There are plenty of Golden Bay activities on offer to experience this area of natural beauty. Join a horse riding tour on the famous Wharariki Beach or go kayaking in the secluded northern end of Abel Tasman National Park.

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Kayaking - Full Day Freedom Kayak Golden Bay

Explore the quiet northern end of Abel Tasman on a full day freedom kayak tour from Tata Beach in Golden Bay. Summer only.

Kayaking - Half Day Guided Kayak Tour Golden Bay

Discover the secluded northern end of Abel Tasman National Park on a half day guided kayaking tour with Golden Bay Kayaks. Summer only.

Kayaking - Half Day Freedom Kayak Golden Bay

Experience a taste of Abel Tasman National Park on a half day freedom kayak with Golden Bay Kayaks. Summer only

Kayaking - Private Guided Eco Tour Golden Bay

Kayak the northern end of Abel Tasman on a private eco tour with Golden Bay Kayaks, including wildlife spotting, rock formations and beautiful scenery

Golden Bay - Golden Beaches - Alpine Valleys

Golden Bay is one of New Zealand's most diverse and appealing holiday destinations. Imagine a region with endless variety, where golden beaches, alpine valleys and tranquil fishing rivers share a close proximity with the sea. Breathtaking scenery, arts and crafts, sporting activities. There's something for everyone. Golden Bay is nestled into the South Island's north-west corner. A chain of steep and rugged mountains cuts its fertile river plains and valleys from the rest of the island. Unless you're a migrating whale, you don't go past Golden Bay on your way to anywhere.

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Golden Bay Tours

On the other side of Takaka Hill is Golden Bay, a part of the Nelson region that is further off the beaten track, but very much worth the journey. Small towns offer a mix of quirky cafés and craft shops, and adventure activities include 4WD trips to Farewell Spit, a nature reserve and the world’s longest sandbar. It’s a part of the country that’s wild and pristine, nowhere more so than at Te Waikoropupu Springs -thought to be the clearest freshwater springs in the world. Wander down the forest trail to see them but don’t be tempted to swim because the springs could easily become contaminated.

The town of Takaka is the largest centre of the region – it’s laid-back and quirky, and offers several café and accommodation options. At the other end of the bay is Collingwood, a tiny village where trips depart to Farewell Spit and hikers set out on the Heaphy Track to the West Coast.

Golden Bay New Zealand, Photo: Miles Holden

You´ll ❤️ these great things to see & do…

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The Golden Bay area can be found on the north-west corner of the South Island. You can only gain access via the Nelson-Tasman region and travelling over the Takaka Hill. Actually, that particular part of the road is an absolute pleasure. The valley scenes are so awesome!

travelling golden bay region with views from takaka hill

Driving Takaka Hill

From Nelson to Takaka and without rushing through, your entire trip will take about 2 hours. However, if you drive further on to Collingwood, it will take you another 30 min. Try not to rush your trip to Golden Bay. If you stop at the Hawkes Lookout, which is only a 10-minute walk, you’ll get stunning views. There is a car park at the start of the walk, plus a handy toilet block! Once you reach the top of  Takaka Hill, you can enjoy a much longer hiking trail to stretch your legs.

Another option for getting to the Golden Bay region, is by flying with Golden Bay Air . These guys fly ex Wellington and Nelson. This is quite handy to know, especially if you are time-short. Golden Bay Air also rent out cars –  which is what you really need for travelling the Golden Bay area.

Where do stay when travelling Golden Bay?

Your options may be more limited to that of other regions, but there are some good choices out there. For example, we found a number of B&B’s and cottage accommodations. Of course, there are also well maintained generic motels. But some of us love authentic places.  And for these, you do need to be prepared to pay a bit more.

We stayed at Adrift in Golden Bay , which is 15 min north of Takaka. As this is a couples-only retreat, you are guaranteed a tranquil stay. You can opt for a studio or a villa. We chose the Honeymoon Villa.

Staying at Adrift a Golden Bay accommodation option

Adrift Honeymoon Villa

Some of the villas have direct access onto a beautiful beach. You can look out through the large windows at the front and drink in the sights.  Occasionally you will see riders on horseback galloping by. Best of all, it is soothing to hear those gentle waves rolling in.

Stunning views onto the Golden Bay from Adrift

Adrift Honeymoon Villa Beach View

Another very popular place in the Golden Bay is Pohara. Pohara is further to the east of Takaka and near the northern entrance of the Abel Tasman National Park. But in our opinion, the further north (toward Collingwood and Farewell Spit) you head, the better it gets! The scenery is just gorgeous in this remoter part. And if you stay in this spot, you will get Air B&B’s and Holiday House options.

Where are the best beaches in the Golden Bay?

One of the key attractions of being able to stay in Golden Bay, is its closeness to the Abel Tasman National Park . From the Golden Bay region, you can access the remoter northern part of the park.

No travel to Golden Bay is complete without a visit to Wharariki Beach . The sea winds add a stunning texture to create movement in the sand. Wharariki Beach will be far as you can travel by road. Admittedly it does takes a bit of effort, but believe me, it is so worth it.

Must do when travelling Golden Bay is Wharariki Beach

You ‘must’ visit Wharariki Beach when in the Golden Bay

You’ll get to walk over huge sand dunes and pass wind-swept rock formations. But first, all this is accessible by walking through a rolling hill farmland – a reserve-style landscape of pastures and forest. In fact, the walk to get to the beach is an added bonus – it doesn’t take long and you’ll pass some really beautiful spots.

Golden Way Walk to Wharariki Beach

Stunning walk in the Golden Bay to Wharariki Beach

What to do in the Golden Bay region?

The Golden Bay region is all about the outdoors and the arts. In this piece of New Zealand, you will experience life at a much slower pace.  The people here, have a strong connection to the land and value the simple things in life. There are many well-known artists in the region – from painters, to clay and metal artist. So, watch keep an eye out on our drive. And do check with the local Golden Bay Information Centre which is located on the left hand side just as you enter Takaka. Here are just a few recommended activities.

Ngarua Caves on Takaka Hill?

While travelling over Takaka Hill it’s well worth stopping at the Ngarua Caves . Apart from the caves classic limestone formations, you will also see a skeletal display of the extinct Moa bird. The tour runs every hour and takes about 45 minutes. Very much suitable for children too.

Moa remains at Ngarua Caves at Takaka Hill.

Moa remains at Ngarua Caves at Takaka Hill. Photo: Ngarua Caves Tours

Friendly Takaka in the Golden Bay

Takaka has a special feeling and vibe. The locals are friendly and they have a lovely feeling of community. Everyone seems to know each other! If you’re into an organic way of living and eating, then you’ll love the shops here.  We found a couple of wonderful cafes in Takaka. So do stop here for lunch before heading towards Collingwood.

Pupu Springs Golden Bay outside Takaka

Just a few minutes north of Takaka are the Pupu Springs . Their official name is ‘Te Waikoropupu’. Part of every Golden Bay trip should be a stop at these beautiful springs. An added bonus is that you can take a 20 min loop walk around the lake. Just stop at the carpark, go to the entrance and start walking.

Pupu Springs is another must do when travelling Golden Bay

Pupu Springs entranceway Golden Bay

What you will see, are some of the clearest and cleanest spring water coming out of the bottom of the lake. It is feed by deep water veins that come from the Southern Alps. These springs are a true and natural wonder! There is no need to photoshop your photos.  The colours you see here, represent the true colour of the pristine waters of Pupu Springs in the Golden Bay.

Magic clear walk at Pupu Springs Bolden Bay

Pupu Springs crystal clear water outside Takaka.

Cape Farewell Horse treks New Zealand

One of the key reasons we made the trip to the Golden Bay was for a horse trekking tour. For many years this one has been on our ‘bucket list’. We were so lucky with the weather – it was PERFECT – These photos are the proof! Now, we are real amateurs when it comes to riding horses.  However, the staff at Cape Farewell Horse Treks  made it all so easy.  We were impressed by how well maintained and neatly displayed all their equipment was.  The riding hats were all hung in neat rows graded by size.  The horses were well cared for and best of all – LOVED! Here’s me on ‘Arnold’ and Pam, riding ‘Homer’:

Cape Farewell Horse Trekking Tour in the Golden Bay

Cape Farewell Horse Trekking Tour

After some meticulous checking by the staff, we both set off with Pam (another Pam) and the delightful Clarissa. These guys were so much fun and the conversations we had were interesting. We all seemed to care about the same things in life. It was a great connection. The tour began with a beach explore and we loved this part. The calmness of the water and the birds flying overhead created some tranquil moments.

Cape Farewell Horse Trek Tour on the Golden Bay beach

Nice and easy with Cape Farewell Horse Trek Tour on the beach.

From the beach, the four of us, plus the boys, climbed a track which lead to the most panoramic views.  With just the sound of nature around us, we stayed here for a while to absorb the beauty.

Golden Bay travel on a stunning sunny winter day

Horse Trekking the Golden Bay on a stunning sunny winter day!

Golden Bay Farewell Spit Nature tours

Farewell Spit is a nature reserve. Access is only possible with a guided tour. As far as we know, the only tour operator is Farewell Spit Tours . We did this trip in 2013, view our travel blog here . The tour starts from the Farewell Spit Tours base in the Collingwood Village. It is important to keep in mind that it is only possible to do this tour at low tide. So naturally, the tour times change from day to day.

Cape Farewell local walk while travelling Golden Bay

Cape Farewell is also reachable by a very easy walk from car park.

Golden Bay Foods and Spirits

Like so  many other parts of New Zealand, the Golden Bay is blessed with excellent food. However, be aware that eateries are limited to specific areas. Therefore we recommend that you either purchase lunch or supplies in Takaka or Collingwood. We travelled over the weekend and found some excellent local cafes and restaurants. However, during the winter season, you might find that some of them are closed, especially on a Sunday.

Collingwood village in the Golden Bay

The small village of Collingwood on a winters day.

Dangerous Kitchen Cafe Takaka

After our arrival in Takaka on the Friday, we found this town buzzing with activity. The main street is the ‘hub’ and best of all, it has two great cafes – ‘ Dangerous Kitchen ‘ and the ‘ Wholemeal Cafe ‘. These two cafes offered such healthy options, including vegan and vegetarian. Best of all, they were smack bang in the middle of the main street.

We loved the Dangerous Kitchen and its enormous pizzas. Their fresh salads were full of freshness and don’t get me started on the cakes!. As in most New Zealand cafes, the coffee was divine. The cool part, was the flow between the interior and the outdoor leading onto the footpath. Basically you can sit right on the main street and watch the world go by. And you will also enjoy the vibe where it is perfectly natural to start a conversation with a stranger.

Wholemeal Cafe Takaka

On our way back we came through Takaka on a Sunday. The Dangerous Kitchen was closed. So, we looked around and found the ‘ Wholemeal Cafe ‘ just a couple of doors away. From the outside, it didn’t look as inviting as the Dangerous Kitchen. However, once we walked in, it became very appealing! The actual building reminded us of a former dance hall or something similar. It had a great atmosphere and most welcoming to families with young children. Once again, the locals were out in force and that is always a good sign!

Mussel Inn Cafe & Restaurant

Travelling further north of Takaka towards Collingwood you’ll find the famous ‘Mussel Inn Cafe & Restaurant’. This restaurant is practically an institution in the Golden Bay region. As you can imagine, a visit here is a must-do for all travellers.

Mussel Inn Golden walk with open fire in winter season

Nice and cozy Mussel Inn at dinner time in winter season.

As our accommodation was only a 5 minute drive from the ‘Mussel Inn’, it made sense to have dinner here. On entering, you might think that you had entered ‘Hobbiton’.  Totally wooden inside and every bit of wall space was taken up with ‘objects of interest’ We loved the large open fire and the rustic decor.

historic Mussel Inn Cafe & Restaurant in the Golden Bay

The famous historic Mussel Inn Cafe & Restaurant in the Golden Bay.

After ordering the food at the counter we absorbed the local atmosphere. It’s so cool to find these authentic, typical New Zealand places. They have a lovely mix of people from the community people and travellers from far-off places. The food was very tasty and great value for your money. We really enjoyed a wonderful evening at the ‘Mussel Inn’! The Mussel Inn opens from 11am until late at night.

The Courthouse Cafe Collingwood

Collingwood is a sleepy little village. To get into the town, you will need to turn off at the main road. Shops, motels and cafes on your left and right –  Classic New Zealand!

Collingwood Wharf while on a visit in July 2020.

Looking Back towards Collingwood from the wharf

There are a couple of cafes in town. Firstly on your right is ‘The Courthouse Cafe’ – a lovely historic building with an indoor and outdoor garden sitting. We enjoyed the atmosphere on a very sunny day. The coffee we ordered was world-class – in fact, one of the best we had for a while – strong, flavour some and hot!

Courthouse Cafe in the village Collingwood

A popular lunch place at Courthouse Cafe in Collingwood.

The other cafe in town is the ‘Mad Cafe'(I’m not kidding). However this one was closed so we didn’t get a chance to sample it.

Golden Bay Distillery Tasting Tours

When we are travelling into a region we generally pop into the local information centre. By having a chat with a tourism insider at location you learn so much. At the Takaka Info Centre the staff told us that Golden Bay distilleries are ‘up and coming’. Well, that was good news for us to hear. Personally we don’t have a deep interest in Gin, Whiskey and Schnapps, but there are a lot of other travellers that appreciate such things.

There are a number of those distilleries that offer tasting tours. Dancing Sands and Kiwi Spirits are just some of them. Again, if you want to learn more and you are travelling through Takaka, just pop into the Info Centre and talk to the helpful staff. Digital or mobile tools are great, but nothing beats talking to the locals!

Summary on travelling the Golden Bay

Because of its location, travelling to the Golden Bay gives you a sense of what New Zealand was like a few years back. There are no fancy highways, the villages are small and the locals know each other!  And the drive from Nelson to Takaka will only take you 1.5-2 hours. In any case, the serious traveller needs to spend at least 2-3 nights stay to truly appreciated the region and get the ‘Golden Bay vibe’. If you are short on time, you can always stay in the Nelson-Tasman region and visit Golden Bay for a day trip. Subject to the ocean tides, there is no lovelier way to explore the full range at the top of the South Island.

Wharariki Beach sand dunes while travelling Golden Bay

A magic place – Wharariki Beach sand dunes in the Golden Bay.

So why would you travel the Golden Bay? If you want to relax and embrace nature, you’ll love it. And if you are looking for gorgeous scenic beaches, a horse trek, or just chilling out, it is definitely worth your while to visit. Somehow you will leave the Golden Bay area with a sense of being ‘refreshed’ and relaxed.

Helpful New Zealand travel links

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Happy Travelling Golden Bay in the winter season!

2 responses to “Travelling Golden Bay”

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super jealous. Our winter getaway pre Covid nonsense was going to be Golden Bay as I’ve never been and it has been on my wish list. Unfortunately there it must stay for this year anyway. Fingers crossed we’ll finally get to explore next winter season.

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It will happen and you’ll love it Jan. Winter is stunning over there; colours are glorious and people such a cool bunch!

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Your Ultimate Guide to the Best Golden Bay Beaches

We have spent a lot of time exploring Golden Bay over the past few years. It’s one of our favourite areas in New Zealand. If you’re dreaming of sun-kissed shores and turquoise waters, the pristine beaches of Golden Bay in the Nelson Tasman region are the best in the South Island. Uncover the hidden gems and find your perfect beach as we explore the best Golden Bay beaches.

The best Golden Bay beaches with calm blue water and lined with lush bush.

Table of Contents

Getting to golden bay.

Golden Bay is nestled at the northwestern tip of the South Island in the Nelson Tasman Region. 

You can kick off your adventure by road, winding your way through scenic routes that showcase the region’s breathtaking landscapes. 

Alternatively, catch a quick regional flight to Takaka in Golden Bay and start your beachcombing expedition straightaway.

The Best Golden Bay Beaches

Pohara beach  golden bay.

A man in distance on Pohara Beach at low tide during sunset.

First on our list is Pohara Beach, a laid-back paradise with a local charm. 

With its flat, long beach, Pohara Beach is perfect for beach walks at low tide and for swimming at high tide. 

Feeling adventurous? Kayak your way around the bay for a unique perspective.

Our favourite and best beach in Golden Bay offers stunning panoramas of the coast and surrounding bushclad hillside as well as phenomenal sunsets.

An additional bonus at this beach is staying beachfront at Pohara Beach Top 10 Holiday Park, which offers a camping experience with all the modern conveniences such as kitchens, BBQs and a lounge room.

Pohara Beach is close to Pohara’s cafes and restaurants.

Additionally, Pohara to Takaka is only 9 minute’s drive.

Awesome Things to Do in Pohara, NZ

Bush and park reserve with sea views at Ligar Bay, one of the best Golden Bay beaches.

A few minute’s drive from Pohara Beach is Ligar Bay, a gem for nature enthusiasts and a favourite for swimming. The shallow beach makes it a great place to take young children. 

Moreover, the reserve at Ligar Bay is an ideal spot for picnics. We love having outdoor lunches with sea views at the beach.

Tata Beach  Golden Bay

Blue sky, golden sand and blue ocean at Tata Beach.

The next beach after Ligar Bay, Tata Beach, is a haven for sunseekers. Picture golden sands meeting crystal-clear waters. It’s perfect for a lazy day of sunbathing.

For those who prefer more activity, there is a boat ramp for boaties, and Golden Bay Kayaks are based here. They offer independent hire of kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, and guided tours.

Stick around for sunset, as Golden Bay beaches have some of the most stunning sunsets on the South Island. Also, if you stay till dusk, look out for penguins.

The bright blue water at Wainui Bay in Nelson Tasman region

For a touch of wilderness, keep driving along Abel Tasman Drive to the next beach at Wainui Bay. The scenic coastal drive is a Golden Bay highlight.

Wainu Bay, nestled in the Abel Tasman National Park, is the last stop at the end of the Abel Tasman Coastal Track. 

The beach is framed by lush native forests, making it a captivating spot for a stroll. You might even encounter some native birdlife along the way.

For those who enjoy walking trails, the walk to Taupo Point offers an hour’s walk with epic coastal views and natural rock formations.

Additionally, the best waterfall in Golden Bay, Wainui Falls, is just a short drive from here.

New Zealand South Island Travel Insider Guide tip

Many Golden Bay beaches have extreme tidal ranges of several metres rise and fall daily. Be aware of this if taking a long beach walk during the incoming tide.

Totaranui Beach  

Totaranui Beach, a true jewel of Golden Bay, beckons with its expansive golden sands. 

Nestled within Abel Tasman National Park, it’s a gateway to the coastal trails and hidden coves of the Abel Tasman Coast Track. You can walk some of the track in either direction.

There is a campground for those who love getting off the beaten track, but bear in mind that there is limited data reception and no cafes/shops. 

For those who treasure remote places, this is one of the best beaches Golden Bay has.

Looking for short walks in Golden Bay? Read our story on the best short walks in Golden Bay .

Patons Rock  

View of sea and a wooden tabel at a Golden Bay beach.

In the other direction, head west to Patons Rock, which offers a safe and shallow beach with fine sand, making it an ideal swimming place.

The best thing we love about Patons Rock is the Patons Rock Reserve and its giant trees. They have picnic tables and benches among the trees, offering beautiful beach views. 

The beach boasts a 2.5-kilometre expanse with a breathtaking view of Golden Bay, making it a perfect spot for a long walk.

Patons Rock also has many holiday homes to rent, so you could easily base yourself there as a central point to explore Golden Bay. 

Patons Rock to Takaka is only a 9-minute drive. Collingwood to Patons Rock is a 16-minute drive.

Tukurua Beach 

Blue wooden tables with view to the calm sea and blue sky.

Another calm, isolated beach, Tukurua Beach, can only be accessed by staying at Golden Bay Holiday Park. 

The holiday park, with its own private beach, offers beachfront camping as well as cabins and villas for those who prefer luxury.

You can wake early to see the sunrise from the sea and experience the gorgeous colours of sunset at the end of the day. Besides, there are beach walks to enjoy the beauty of nature.

For those not staying at the holiday park, you can access the adjoining beach, Parapara Beach Golden Bay, off Parapara Beach Road.

Milnthorpe Beach Golden Bay

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The beach at Milnthorpe provides a deserted island feeling. It’s another of our favourite Golden Bay beaches. 

The best part is where the Parapara Inlet meets the sea; there’s a cool concrete walkway that you can access at low tide that takes you to the beach.

Milnthorpe Beach has trails along the beach through regenerated forest. However, the main attraction of Milnthorpe is the Milnthorpe Park & Scenic Reserve, with its network of walking trails ranging from a few minutes to 3 hours. 

Collingwood Beach

Driftwood on the beach at Collingwood Beach

History buffs, this one’s for you. Collingwood Beach not only offers a relaxing escape but also a glimpse into the region’s past. 

Collingwood Beach is a perfect choice for those who want all the facilities, such as pubs, restaurants and galleries nearby.

You can explore remnants of the gold rush in the two museums, browse the shops and galleries, and have lunch at one of the cafes or the waterfront pub.

Collingwood Beach is just minutes from the village centre and offers epic coastline views framed by immense mountains. It’s also a great place to throw a fishing line or take a stroll on the beach.

For those who want to stay awhile, there are beach houses for rent (some adjacent to the beach), or there are motels.

The Collingwood Holiday Park, situated along the Aorere River and Collingwood Beach, offers phenomenal water views of the Aorere River mouth, Kahurangi National Park, and Farewell Spit. They offer waterfront camping sites and basic cabins.

Farewell Spit 

Rocky outcrop and beach at Fossil Point at Cape Farewell.

Farewell Spit, located at the westernmost point of Golden Bay, is the world’s longest natural sandbar.

Spend the day bird watching at one of New Zealand’s most important bird sanctuaries and looking out for penguins and seals. 

Farewell Spit has many walking trails ranging from minutes to hours. However, visitors are only permitted to explore the first four kilometres of Farewell Spit independently. The best way to experience the entire length of the spit is on a 4WD safari. 

If you’re looking for a fun short walk in Golden Bay, check out the Puponga farm trail to Fossil Point (on the West Coast). It’s a 30-minute, one-way walk through a mix of farmland and bush leading to the wild coast. The rocks have fossils embedded, so it’s pretty cool to check out.

Wharariki Beach  Golden Bay

Female walking on sand dunes at Wharariki Beach, Golden Bay.

Saving the best for last, Wharariki Beach is a must-visit. Many visitors consider it the best beach Golden Bay offers. 

Towering rock formations and vast stretches of sand make it a photographer’s dream. 

Explore the famous Archway Islands (try to get there at low tide) for a truly epic experience on your Golden Bay beach tour.

You need to walk along a 20-minute trail to visit this beach. However, the walk, which starts through paddocks and along a bushy hillside track, takes you through some stunning scenery to the remote Wharariki Beach.

Wharariki Beach is known for its rugged coastline and sand dunes, with wild winds and waves that have sculpted the rocks and cliffs over time.

The area is also well known for its seal population, and if you are lucky, you may see them sunning on the beach rocks.

This beach has epic views and wild surf; your Instagram will love the photos. However, it is not safe to swim!

Experience the Best Beaches in Golden Bay   

So there you have it, beach enthusiasts! Golden Bay’s beaches offer diverse experiences, from tranquil sunbathing to adventurous explorations. If you love chasing the sun and exploring beaches as much as we do, let the Golden Bay beaches NZ adventure begin! 

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Create the best memories of san francisco .

Memories are what we create when we travel. 

At Red and White , w e believe the friendliness of our staff, the quality of our vessels,

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all help create the best memory of your time on the Bay.   

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Our 90 minute San Francisco Bridge to Bridge Cruise gives you unbeatable views of the San Francisco skyline and world famous Bay Bridge, as well as all the most popular sights on San Francisco Bay and finishes with a trip under the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.

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Ever wanted to see the California sun drop slowly into the Pacific Ocean, framed by the majestic Golden Gate, from the middle of San Francisco Bay? This is your cruise. 90 minutes of bliss on the Bay. Yes, people propose on this cruise. A lot.

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Join us for a magical SFBCo Twilight Cruise on February 17, 2024 at 5-7pm on the bay with live music, SFBCo finest brews and tasty bites

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Founded in 1892, the historic Red and White is legendary for its premiere San Francisco cruises. As a local, family owned business Red and White is committed to the environmental sustainability of San Francisco Bay and community education.

In 1892, seventeen-year-old Thomas Crowley launched the first of many companies which would one day be a fixture of the San Francisco Bay. Using $80 he had saved, he purchased a used Whitehall rowboat, and started a business supplying the ships at anchor in the Bay. His inaugural boat was just eighteen feet long and  five feet wide, and he rowed it alone through the waters of the Bay transporting both goods and passengers at a time when no bridges connected the city to the other parts of the Bay.

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Our hive tours are perfect for the bee lover and curious. Tours are designed to give you a truly hands-on honey bee experience. We offer: adult/children-only tours, family friendly for all, ages 4 and up. We also offer tours to groups, such as schools, scouts etc. We provide a hands­-on experience in an active

live beehive. You will learn about the life cycle, jobs and history of the honey bee and the benefits of honey. Your local tour guide and resident beekeeper, will have you suiting up in protective gear and explaining the tools they use in the bee yard. You will be getting up close and personal with many honey bees.

​Our tours are perfect for team building, or an adventure with friends and family! Tours are offered from Spring to August.

Interested in gifting a tour to someone during our off-season. Consider purchasing a gift certificate & book the tour during the season.

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The Sturgeon Bay Rotary Club's Shipyard Tours are no more. What will replace them?

The guided walking tours of fincantieri bay shipbuilding were a major fundraiser for the local rotary club, but the new event will continue to focus on the city's maritime heritage..

STURGEON BAY - The long history of the Rotary Club of Sturgeon Bay's annual Shipyard Tours has come to an end, but the club has a new cruising tour lined up to replace it as a major fundraiser.

The local club announced Friday, Feb. 9, it will no longer hold the guided walking tours that for more than 30 years gave thousands of guests an inside look at Sturgeon Bay shipyards on the first Saturday of May while also highlighting how the shipyards and the maritime industry impacted the city. The Sturgeon Bay Rotary directed all proceeds toward scholarships for youth and continuing education of adults, affordable housing projects and child care in Door County.

In earlier years, several shipyards on the waterfront took part, but the past couple of years have focused on Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding. Now, a news release from the Rotary said Bay Ship's growth and changes in recent years mean if a tour was to take place, it wouldn't provide the same access to the facility's inner workings nor the quality guests have experienced in the past.

"For 33 years, the Rotary Club of Sturgeon Bay has worked with the community ship builders and other maritime partners to highlight the importance of our maritime history," the news release said. "The Rotary Club has used the funds raised from the event to help with various community projects and youth scholarships in Door County. The cornerstone to the event was the tour of the Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding yard and we would like to thank Fincantieri for their past and continued commitment to our community."

To replace the Shipyard Tours, the Sturgeon Bay Rotary is working with Shoreline Boat Tours and the Door County Maritime Museum to sponsor narrated cruises created especially for the event over a June weekend that feature the working history of the harbor.

“Sturgeon Bay Working Waterfront Tours, Past and Present” will focus on educating guests on the community’s ties to the Great Lakes. Along with featuring the history of what the harbor meant and continues to mean to Sturgeon Bay, the 90-minute tours will highlight seven unique working waterfront points of interest and provide an up-close look at the waterside of the harbor. Tickets will also include access to the Door County Maritime Museum and new Kress Viewing Tower.

Tours are scheduled to take place June 21 to 23; start times are 8:15 and 10:45 a.m. and 12:45 and 2:45 p.m. Tickets are $75 and go on sale April 1. The boats have a capacity of 25, so a maximum of 300 tickets will be sold for the entire event.

For tickets or details, visit doorcountytickets.com . For updates on the tours or more information on the local club, visit sturgeonbayrotaryclub.org or the "Rotary Club of Sturgeon Bay" Facebook page .

Contact Christopher Clough at 920-562-8900 or  [email protected].

MORE: Win the lottery? This survey says you might desire buying a waterfront home in Door County

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The Beach Boys set to bring the “Endless Summer Gold” Tour to Green Bay

G REEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Officials announced on Tuesday morning that The Beach Boys are set to head out on a new tour they’re calling “Endless Summer Gold” and the band will be bringing the tour to Capital Credit Union Park in Green Bay.

According to a release, The Beach Boys are led by lead singer and critically acclaimed lyricist Mike Love, who along with longtime band member Bruce Johnston, musical director Brian Eichenberger, Christian Love, Tim Bonhomme, Jon Bolton, Keith Hubacher, Randy Leago, and John Wedemeyer will continue the legacy of the band known for hits like “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” Surfin’ U.S.A.,” and “Good Vibrations.”

The new “Endless Summer Gold” Tour is set to start towards the end of February in Hawaii and kicks off just ahead of the debut of the band’s official book “The Beach Boys By The Beach Boys” and just after CBS’s tribute special “A Grammy Salute to the Beach Boys.”

Officials at Captial Credit Union Park say the band will be bringing their iconic Southern California sound to Green Bay on July 11 with gates opening at 5:00 p.m.

Tickets for most dates of the Endless Gold Summer Tour are scheduled to go on sale Friday, February 9.

For more information on the band and the tour, or to buy tickets, visit either Mike Love’s website or The Beach Boys’ website .

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to WFRV Local 5 - Green Bay, Appleton.

The Beach Boys set to bring the “Endless Summer Gold” Tour to Green Bay

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COMMENTS

  1. THE 5 BEST Golden Bay Tours for 2024 (with Prices)

    Golden Bay Tours Enter dates Tours Filters Sort All things to do Category types Attractions Tours Day Trips Outdoor Activities Food & Drink Shopping Transportation Traveller Resources Tours Eco Tours Sightseeing Tours Boat Tours Walking Tours Traveller rating Good for Good for Couples Adventurous Good for Kids Good for Big Groups See All Tours

  2. THE 5 BEST Golden Bay Tours & Excursions

    THE 5 BEST Golden Bay Tours & Excursions Golden Bay Tours Enter dates Tours Filters Sort All things to do Category types Attractions Tours Day Trips Outdoor Activities Food & Drink Shopping Transportation Traveler Resources Tours Eco Tours Sightseeing Tours Boat Tours Walking Tours Traveler rating Good for Good for Couples Adventurous Good for Kids

  3. Farewell Spit Eco Tours, Golden Bay, New Zealand

    Welcome to Farewell Spit Tours Farewell Spit Nature Reserve is a bird sanctuary and wetland of international importance, being more strictly protected than a national park. Farewell Spit is around 35km long and public access is restricted to the first 4km. Vehicle access is only allowed for supervised tours by concession holders.

  4. The Complete Guide to Visiting New Zealand's Golden Bay

    There are three ways to get to Golden Bay: By air from Nelson or Wellington to the tiny Golden Bay Airport just outside Takaka. Flights are generally quite expensive, and airplanes small. By car (or shuttle service) over the Takaka Hill road along State Highway 60 from Motueka and Nelson.

  5. Visit Golden Bay

    Go Wild Golden Bay has some of the most remote, wild and wonderful spots in New Zealand. The western coast is full of long, windswept beaches, huge sand dunes, massive wetland areas, huge tidal estuaries, and rocky outcrops that belong to another planet.

  6. Golden Bay & Marlborough 7 Days NZD

    7 days / 6 nights. The Golden Bay & Marlborough Tour is the best way to experience the top of the South Island. Enjoy two 2 night stays (in Golden Bay and Blenheim) and leisurely pace to the travel. The tour includes a full day tour out on Farewell Spit and Cape Farewll, a cruise Tasman Bay, visit the spectacular Omaka Aviation Museum, and ...

  7. Top 10 Things To Do In Takaka & Golden Bay

    5. Kayak around pristine, quiet bays. Exploring the extraordinary coastline by kayak is as good as you imagined, but better with Golden Bay Kayaks.The only company operating guided tours into the Abel Tasman National Park from the North, they are a small family-focused company operating from the beautiful Tata Beach.Slip straight into the clear waters, paddle around the Tata Islands, watch the ...

  8. Molesworth Station & Golden Bay 7 day tour

    It's a once in a lifetime experience to drive this vast farmland on the tracks of early stockmen and travellers.Then contrast this landlocked region with the golden sands of Abel Tasman National Park and Farewell Spit and the relaxed vibe of Golden Bay. $3,990 (NZD) pp twin. $4,590 (NZD) pp single. Check Availability. Itinerary. What's Included.

  9. Golden Bay

    Golden Bay - Things to see and do | South Island | New Zealand Destinations All destinations New Zealand map National Parks North Island Auckland Bay of Plenty The Coromandel Hawke's Bay Manawatū Northland & Bay of Islands Rotorua Ruapehu Tairāwhiti Gisborne Taranaki Taupō Waikato Wairarapa Wellington Whanganui South Island Central Otago

  10. Online Bookings for Farewell Spit Tours, Golden Bay

    Farewell Spit Tour. Farewell Spit has been a sanctuary since the 1930's and provides home for over 90 species of bird, most importantly the waders. Bar tailed godwits, knots, curlews, whimbrels and turnstones fly 12,000km every Northern Hemisphere autumn, to spend the summer in the south. See them from the wide windows of our stylishly ...

  11. Golden Bay Wharariki Beach Farewell Spit 2024

    Head up over the rocky outcrops and weathered limestone caves of Takaka Hill and enjoy the experience of entering another world with this scenic full day guided tour of Golden Bay, departing from nearby Nelson or Motueka. Famed for its unique landscapes, stunning beaches, great weather and laid-back lifestyle, Golden Bay is a secluded paradise of natural beauty that will leave you longing to ...

  12. Things to do in Golden Bay

    Family Friendly Activities. Half Day Tours. Kayaking. Overnight & Multi Day Tours. Wildlife Tours. At the top of New Zealand's South Island, Golden Bay is a popular destination for outdoor activities, exploring sandy beaches and visiting natural attractions. There are plenty of Golden Bay activities on offer to experience this area of natural ...

  13. TOP 10 Golden Bay Tours & Trips

    Golden Bay Tours On the other side of Takaka Hill is Golden Bay, a part of the Nelson region that is further off the beaten track, but very much worth the journey. Small towns offer a mix of quirky cafés and craft shops, and adventure activities include 4WD trips to Farewell Spit, a nature reserve and the world's longest sandbar.

  14. Golden Bay In A Day Tour

    Golden Bay In A Day Tour. Duration: 9 hours Departure: 8:30 am Food: Lunch included Walking time: 2 -3hrs in segments Fitness level: Easy/average. *Please note: Golden Bay in a Day and Wild NorthWest can be combined into a 2 day 1 night stopover. Details and price on application. Please note: all scheduled tours can be converted into an ...

  15. Travelling Golden Bay

    Golden Bay Farewell Spit Nature tours. Farewell Spit is a nature reserve. Access is only possible with a guided tour. As far as we know, the only tour operator is Farewell Spit Tours. We did this trip in 2013, view our travel blog here. The tour starts from the Farewell Spit Tours base in the Collingwood Village.

  16. Your Ultimate Guide to the Best Golden Bay Beaches

    For those who prefer more activity, there is a boat ramp for boaties, and Golden Bay Kayaks are based here. They offer independent hire of kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, and guided tours. Stick around for sunset, as Golden Bay beaches have some of the most stunning sunsets on the South Island. Also, if you stay till dusk, look out for penguins.

  17. Experience the Best San Francisco Bay Cruises

    Golden Gate Bay Cruise The original classic. A jaw-dropping one-hour nonstop adventure for your senses. Not to mention the most famous bridge in the world, and an equally infamous island prison. $38 Adult (18+) $29 Youth (5-17) Under 5 Free 60 minutes Book Now San Francisco Bridge to Bridge Cruise

  18. Golden Bay Tour Yurtdışı Balayı Turları Kara Gemi Cruise Turları

    Avrupa'nın en uzun nehri olan Volga Nehri'ni, üstün hizmet sunan gemiler eşliğinde keşfetmek için Golden Bay Tour'un programlarını inceleyebilirsiniz. Detaylı Bilgi. Şirketimiz satışlarında Garanti Bankası döviz satış kurunu baz almaktadır. Kur bilgileri için tıklayınız.

  19. Home

    We offer: adult/children-only tours, family friendly for all, ages 4 and up. We also offer tours to groups, such as schools, scouts etc. We provide a hands­-on experience in an active live beehive. You will learn about the life cycle, jobs and history of the honey bee and the benefits of honey.

  20. 2024 Golden Leaf Tours

    Golden Leaf Tours 5 3 reviews #259 of 536 Transportation in Montego Bay Taxis & ShuttlesPrivate ToursBus ToursDay Trips Write a review See all photos About

  21. Golden Bay Tour

    YURT DIŞI TURLARI. Exclusive. AMERİKA EFSANELERİ (30.09.2023 TARİHİNE KADAR ODA BAŞI $400 İNDİRİM ) New York (3) - Las Vegas (3) - Los Angeles (3) 20.01.2024.

  22. Golden Bay Tours

    Golden Bay Tours - Travel agency Kotor | Private Tours, Excursions, Transfers Perast & Risan Short tour Explore long Maritime history Learn More Recommended for cruise ship travelers Kotor - Budva 65€ per person Learn More Great Experience Best Price Professional Staff Super Fast Booking Popular Tour Packages View All Tours

  23. Usher announces Bay Area dates and we have the presale code

    The 24-city tour will include stops in Boston, Philadelphia, Toronto, Brooklyn, Detroit, Los Angeles before wrapping up in Chicago on Oct. 29. Usher is slated for two Bay Area performances at the ...

  24. Sturgeon Bay Shipyard Tours are being replaced by new waterfront tours

    Tickets will also include access to the Door County Maritime Museum and new Kress Viewing Tower. Tours are scheduled to take place June 21 to 23; start times are 8:15 and 10:45 a.m. and 12:45 and ...

  25. The Beach Boys set to bring the "Endless Summer Gold" Tour to Green Bay

    The new "Endless Summer Gold" Tour is set to start towards the end of February in Hawaii and kicks off just ahead of the debut of the band's official book "The Beach Boys By The Beach Boys ...