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Upper South Island and the West Coast Travel Guide

Golden Bay and Takaka

The gorgeous stretch of coastline that begins at Separation Point, in Abel Tasman National Park, and runs westward past Takaka to Farewell Spit is known as Golden Bay, named for the gold discovered there in the 1850s. Alternating sandy and rocky shores curve up to the sands of Farewell Spit, the arcing prong that encloses the bay. A 19th-century lighthouse station near its tip,

here to warn shipping of the low-lying sandy spit, is the only man-made intrusion here. Dutch navigator Abel Tasman anchored briefly in Golden Bay a few days before Christmas 1642. His visit ended abruptly when four of his crew were killed in an altercation with local Māori iwi (tribe), Ngāti Tūmatakōkiri. Tasman named the place Moordenaers Baij, or Murderers' Bay, and sailed away without ever setting foot on New Zealand soil. Today Golden Bay is a 40-km (25-mile) crescent of beaches, farms, and orchards, where a relaxed crew of locals firmly believe they live in paradise, and a huge annual influx of summertime holidaymakers agree with them. The only road to Golden Bay climbs over the steep Takaka Hill from Motueka. You need to be determined to get here; it’s not a place you pass on the way to somewhere else.

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