Golden Bay, South Island, New Zealand

We took the Interislander Cook Straight Ferry from Wellington on the North Island to Picton on South Island, then drove one hour drive to Takaka in Golden Bay. We thought the North Island was beautiful, but everyone we talked to said “just wait until you get to the South Island!” They were right. Even the journey to Takaka was incredible!

We Caught Our Dinner

Our AirBnb host included a few pamphlets in her welcome packet, one of which was for Anatoki Salmon, a local salmon farm where you catch your own salmon and they cook it on the spot for you. We were intrigued and thought we’d see what it was all about. It ended up being a lot of fun! John took the lead on fishing while I documented the effort. After about 15 minutes he caught a nice one. We had half of it hot smoked with garlic and herbs and the other half cut into fresh sashimi. Delicious!

We Saw the Sunset at Wharariki Beach 

The most memorable part of our time in Golden Bay was driving almost two hours and hiking another 30 minutes to get to secluded Wharariki Beach (pronounced Fah-ra-riki) to catch the epic sunset. It lived up to our expectations and was worth the journey. There were only about 10 other people on the entire beach with us. We even brought some of the sparkling Shiraz we’d been carrying around since Adelaide to enjoy!

We Hiked to Wainui Falls

Our next outdoor adventure was hiking through Abel Tasman National Park to get to Wainui Falls, the largest waterfall in Golden Bay. The hour long hike wasn’t too difficult, and the scenery was beautiful. But when we got to the waterfalls, we were speechless! It was incredible, and of course we were the only two people enjoying it since we went later in the day. The water was too cold to swim, but we got as far down the rocks as we could to stick our toes in!

 We Flew Over Golden Bay 

Since we enjoyed the helicopter tour of Hawke’s Bay so much, we decided to take a scenic overflight with Golden Bay Air. We got to see several of the places we’d visited on the ground from above, and several spots we would never have ventured to on our own. In fact, some of the locations we flew over are inaccessible and haven’t ever been visited by humans! Our pilot was knowledgeable about the history and industry of Golden Bay. We flew over Farewell Spit, Abel Tasman National Park, the Dragon’s Teeth rock formation in Kahurangi National Park, some of the hydro reservoirs that power the area, and many more areas that made up Golden Bay, Takaka and Nelson. It was fantastic!
As an aside: remember to bring Dramamine next time. 

We loved this place!

We would absolutely recommend a stop in Golden Bay for anyone South Island-bound, and we hope to return one day. Here are a few lagniappe things from our time in this beautiful place!

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