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Monday, 23 May 2011

Nelson Tasman region brews, views and barbecues - Golden Bay HP NZ

Heading off in search of kaimona pic Bennett & Slater.
Heading off in search of
kaimona pic Bennett & Slater.

Takaka Hill is steep and winding but on the other side is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow – Golden Bay in all its glory.

As you pass the summit and head down into the Takaka Valley the low outline of Farewell Spit, makes an arc around the eastern flank of the Bay. Inland, dense bush cloaks the slopes of Kahurangi National Park which surround the lush green pastures on the flat. It’s a magnificent view, one which for us signals the start of some extra special times – relaxing sunny days by the beach, daily swims, a walk in the hills, and a good night out at the Mussel Inn.

Golden Bay Holiday Park is conveniently close to the Inn and more or less smack bang in the middle of the bay. About 15 minutes drive from artsy Takaka, it’s situated at Tukurua Beach down a leafy one-kilometre driveway amplifying that away-from-it-all vibe.

Leafy campsites at  Tukurua. pic. Bennett & Slater
Leafy campsites at Tukurua. pic. Bennett & Slater

The campground itself occupies 12 acres, protected from the onshore breeze by a shelterbelt of flax, phoenix palms and rata. The beach is a delight, with a gentle incline that’s ideal for tentative swimmers.

Walkable for miles in both directions, it’s a quiet spot shared only by your fellow campers and the locals – you won’t find hordes of day-trippers here.

The campground’s more than 40 years old, which accounts for the mature grounds with hedgerows and graceful silver birch forming shady avenues for campers and campervanners.

Water restrictions have reduced capacity from 450 to 350, turning what was already a roomy park into one with grassy fields to spare – great for the kids to run around in while the rest of park enjoys relative calm.

Built accommodation is also available, for those without tents or a caravan.

A two-storey block of furnished cabins offers a solid budget option, right next to the beach with peek-through views to the sea. Next to them are a couple of rather swish two-bedroom beach houses nestled amongst the trees. Built in 2009, these have numerous mod cons and their own barbecue and balcony.

The campground itself doesn’t sport a huge range of facilities but what there is – kitchen, toilets and coin-op showers – are functional and clean. There is Wi-Fi acess, an internet kiosk and a weeny TV, but that is pretty much it.

But this is place where less is more, where you don’t need a raft of amenities to enjoy yourself. There is a ramp for the boaties and fish biting offshore, ice cream at the camp shop, and a kiddies program during the summer holidays.

Beach house  Tukurua. pic. Bennett & Slater - Tukurua
Beach house Tukurua. pic. Bennett & Slater - Tukurua

If you fancy exploring or just want to hang out by a quiet, uncrowded beach, this place may well be for you. The Mussel Inn, just down the road at Onekaka – a five-minute drive, but possible to reach by walking along the beach (as far as the corroded iron remains of Onekaka Wharf) then up the road to the highway where you take a left. Onekaka is a small coastal community in Golden Bay, at the northwestern tip of the South Island, New Zealand

Be sure to check the tide times, though, unless you are prepared to get your feet wet. One of New Zealand’s best pubs, this is an unashamedly rustic place with an array of house-brews (including the famous Captain Cooker manuka beer), wholesome food and regular live music.

Golden Bay Holiday Park’s central location within the Bay means it’s not far from the area’s other attractions. Day trips can easily be made to the lunar landscape of The Spit and its migratory godwits,Bencarri Nature Park with its slippery eels, or the tracks and treasures of the Abel Tasman and Kahurangi National Parks.

Abel Tasman National Park was founded in 1942, largely through the efforts of ornithologist and author Perrine Moncrieff to have land reserved for the purpose. With a coverage of only 225.3 square kilometres, is the smallest of New Zealand's national parks.

Sweeping bay view. Courtesy Latitude Nelson
Sweeping bay view. Courtesy Latitude Nelson

The beaches are gazetted as a Scenic Reserve. The Abel Tasman Coast Track is a popular tramping track which follows the coastline; while an inland route, the Abel Tasman Inland Track, is less frequented. Kayaking, camping and sightseeing are other activities carried out in the park. Classed as one of New Zealand's 'Great Walks', the Abel Tasman's Coastal Track takes between three and five days to complete.

It climbs around headlands and through native forest to a series of beautiful beaches. The track is walkable at any time of the year. A number of kayaking companies run guided tours from Marahau, Kaiteriteri and Golden Bay. For those with only a day to see the park, water taxi companies can provide a personalised mix of sightseeing by boat and track walking. Pre-booking is advised.

Farewell Spit, known to the Maori as Tuhuroa, is said to be the longest natural sandbar in the world. Its mighty sand dunes shelter migratory birds. There are a range of tours to Farewell Spit.

There is a pouwhenua placed by the local iwi to indicate their connection to the spit, and nearby a panel explaining some of their legends. Farewell Spit Eco Tours says the area 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. Tide cycles can recede up to seven kilometres and expose about 80 square kilometres of mud flats; a rich feeding ground for the many sea birds but a death trap to the frequently stranded whales.

A kayak prepares for the water. Courtesy Latitude Nelson
A kayak prepares for the water. Courtesy Latitude Nelson

In 1642 Abel Tasman was the first European to see the spit. He was followed in 1770 by Captain James Cook. The lighthouse on the end of the spit dates from 1870. The Spit is administered by the New Zealand Department of Conservation as a sea bird and wild life reserve. Apart from a small area at the base of The Spit it is closed to the public except through organised tours.

Things to do in the Tasman region:
Paddle into the park in a sea kayak.
Walk the scenic bush tracks.
Swim, Surf, Dive.
Try you luck fishing.
Enjoy the local seafood and produce.
Wilsons Abel Tasman sightseeing tours.
Skydive Abel Tasman.
The Sea Kayak Company.
Tasman Sky Adventures - microlight flights.
Sea Limousines www.sealimousines.com                                                                                            Kaiteriteri seal swim.
Kaiteriteri Mountain Bike Park.
Arts and Crafts.
Nelson attractions and things to see and do include:
World of Wearable Arts and Classic Cars Museum.
Bead Gallery - World Class selection of beads and components.
Craft Habitat & Art Centre.
Founders Historic Park.
Hoglund Art Glass.
Natureland Zoological Park.
The Suter Art Gallery.
Vertical Limits - Indoor Climbing Center.
Happy Valley Adventures.
Helipro - offices in Taupo, Palmerston North,  Wellington, Nelson and Christchurch.                                                                         Motueka Wine Tours.
Nelson Cathedral.

Reach for mile high sky adventures
Tasman Sky Adventures at Motueka Airport is the only company in New Zealand which offers hang gliding from a mile high.

They use the latest tandem aero-towing techniques with the tandem hang-glider towed into the air by a specially designed tow-plane called a 'tug'.

Unlike hill launching, aero-towing allows their professional pilots to take passengers as high as they want.Their pilots are certified by the New Zealand Hang Gliding and Paragliding association.

The tandem gliders have heavy-duty landing gear and quality cocoon harnesses to ensure safety and comfort. Tasman Sky Adventures specialise in tandem hang gliding, and scenic microlight flights.

Editors Note: GoSee thanks Fergus Brown CEO of Holiday Accommodation Parks Association of New Zealand (HAPNZ) for providing the basis of this free Information Article for the benefit of GoSeers.

For more information
contact: Garth Morrison
Editor Go See Australia and Go See New Zealand Directory
Email: garth@contact.com.au

Take five at Farewell Spit and  lighthouse. Courtesy Latitude Nelson
Take five at Farewell Spit and lighthouse. Courtesy Latitude Nelson

On the beach  bus at  sunrise. Courtesy Latitude Nelson
On the beach bus at sunrise. Courtesy Latitude Nelson

A water taxi drops walkers. Courtesy Lattitude Nelson
A water taxi drops walkers. Courtesy Lattitude Nelson

Paddling partners. Awaroa. Courtesy Latitude Nelson
Paddling partners. Awaroa. Courtesy Latitude Nelson

Heading off in search of kaimona pic Bennett & Slater
Heading off in search of kaimona pic Bennett & Slater

Tukurua  beach at dawn. pic. Bennett & Slater
Tukurua beach at dawn. pic. Bennett & Slater

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Tasman Sky Adventures
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