good as gold: destination gorgeous golden bay

Golden Bay is perched at the top of the South Island, cosying up to Abel Tasman National Park’s honey-toned beaches, and the vast primeval forests of Kahurangi National Park. This beautiful region gets plenty of visitors, including The True Honey Co. – just in time for the Mānuka blossoms. Come join us in gorgeous Golden Bay, and don’t forget your camera.

Should you visit this very special part of New Zealand, you will have plenty to keep yourself busy, splashing around the coast and venturing inland on the many walks and other adventures it has to offer. The road to Golden Bay over the ‘Marble Mountain’ offers views of fairytale rock formations scattered across land and sea, from the arch seen from Wharariki Beach to the limestone outcrops in The Grove’s forests and Labyrinth Rocks Park.

The intrepid True Honey Co. team of beekeepers and pilots love the Golden Bay area too. It’s home to about 500 of our hives, scattered about the wonderfully wild West Coast near Anatori, south of Farewell Spit.

And founder Jim McMillan, the captain of the True Honey Co. ship – is whakapapa (descended from) the Te Āti Awa Iwi, a tribe with traditional bases at the top of the South Island, Wellington and Taranaki. He also has a strong connection with other Iwi in the region, as he held the position of Associate Director for Wakatū Incorporation for two years. Wakatu is made up of four Iwi – Te Āti Awa, Ngati Tama, Ngato Koata and Ngati Rarua.

Today, our team stays connected to local Iwi, as they plant Mānuka and grow their knowledge in regenerating marginal land and generating a sustainable income from this beautiful, remote countryside. We also work closely with DOC (Department of Conservation) to manage hives nestled in the dense native Mānuka bush in Kahurangi National Park and northwest of Nelson below Farewell Spit.

Around these parts, the Mānuka is a pretty late bloomer, not usually fully blossoming until December or even January. Anatori is a challenging place to place our hives – the remote landscape could easily be a set from Jurassic Park, where if you squint just right, you could almost expect to glimpse a dinosaur through the lush, primeval native bush.

Perhaps it’s the salty West Coast air, or it could be the diverse native trees like Rata blooming in the area, but the Mānuka honey here tastes something special. It doesn’t always get the high MGO rating we find in the far north, but the views alone make it worth it. Like the one at the top of this post, taken from Collingwood, as our pilots take off to head out and do a long day’s work around Anatori.

what to do in golden bay

From wiggling one’s toes in the sand at Pohara Beach to spotting (or at least hearing) a Great Spotted Kiwi on the glorious Heaphy Track, this area is bursting with natural wonders and things to keep you busy. Here’s our round up of seven outdoorsy must dos.

Mountain bike the Rameka Track
Discover out-of-the-way forests and primordial limestone outcrops as you pedal about in the Abel Tasman National Park. Emerge into Takaka on this one day single track. Transport and bike hire are available at Takaka.

Paddle a kayak
The northern end of Abel Tasman National Park meets Cook Strait at pristine Tata Beach. Hire a kayak, get a guided tour or head out on a standup paddleboard – all with Golden Bay Kayaks.

Walk the leafy Heaphy
A spectacular, varied hike through Kahurangi National Park and along the rugged West Coast, the Heaphy Track is well marked, with DOC huts and campsites to overnight in.

Climb the rocks at Payne’s Ford
This limestone crag climbing area just south of Takaka offers more than 240 routes for keen climbers (you’ll need some experience). Gear hire, guides and transport is available from Takaka.

Scoff fresh Anatoki Salmon
Catch, smoke and feast on a delicious lunch of your own freshly line caught Chinook salmon. You can also feed the resident tame eels and get up close to land based creatures in the petting zoo.

Canter along Wharariki Beach
Saddle up with Cape Farewell Horse Treks and ride. Trek options take in Puponga Beach, Old Man’s Range, Triangle Valley, and for the experienced, adventurous rider, a ride along the wide open Wharariki Beach.

Splash about at Pohara
Golden Bay has some of New Zealand’s best sandy beaches that are safe for swimming. But Pohara Beach has the bonus of bars and cafes, galleries, a golf course, kayak and blo-kart hire, to keep everyone in the family busy as bees.

 After your Jurassic Park-style adventures and explorations, you might like to reintroduce yourself gently to civilisation. The towns around here include – from north west to south east – Collingwood, Takaka and Motueka (heading back towards Nelson). Perhaps you might even run into a beekeeper or two.