Patons Rock Beach near Takaka. © Lazing Bee

Camping in Golden Bay: a pristine paradise of golden beaches, alpine valleys, tranquil rivers and ocean


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It’s a different world, Golden Bay. On the way to pretty much nowhere in particular, and that’s how the locals like it.

There is so much to do in Golden Bay, and it’s all kinda far-flung, so if you have your own transport, you’re sorted. What you spend on unleaded 91 can be saved by camping – the area is festooned with canvas sites. And the weather is totally about the most predictable in the country, so you can go to a gazillion brilliant spots and pitch a tent.

Head up Takaka Hill, look outwards to some supremely spectacular views or duck inwards to the Ngarua Caves, where you can see fossilised moa bones. How many days end with you being able to post "checked out some extinct creature’s bones today LOL." ’Xactly. If you want to go downwards, you can have a look at the 400m deep Harwood’s Hole, also on Takaka Hill – but don’t get close to the edge, seriously. It’s a long way down, and for ultra-experienced cavers only. But it’s more than worth a peek.

Really, the whole Golden Bay area is just worth drifting around – it throbs, gently, with heaps of artists and potters and lifestylers, often selling their wares.

There are heaps of amazing beaches, many of which have right-by-the-sand camping facilities. And there is loads of organic/gluten-free/safe-as-houses food; at multiple cafés in the little towns and around them and at side-of-the-road stalls and stands. Fresh as can be.

Yep, it’s all here and it’s all grand. You can see why so many city dwellers visit here and then text the real estate agent back home with one word: ‘Sell’.

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