After winding past several small farming districts and beach communities such as Paton's Rock, Onekaka, and Tukurua, State Highway 60 arrives at Collingwood, a small seaside village at the mouth of the giant Aorere River, 26 km (16 miles) west of Takaka. The earliest European settlers came here in the 1840s to build small ships from the timber lining the beaches and to farm the fertile river plains that spill out of the surrounding mountains. In the 1850s, gold was discovered nearby and Collingwood became a thriving port-of-entry town; at one time it was even under consideration to be the country's capital.
Collingwood is a bit out on a limb from main roads through the South Island. Nevertheless it's an interesting place with much to offer; for example, it's the northern access point for the Heaphy Track and the main base for trips to Farewell Spit and the wild, remote coastline of the northernmost West Coast. The old 1910 council office building houses the small Collingwood Museum,
which has some interesting history displays; next door the Aorere Centre also has a good photographic record of the area's past. You can make a sweet stop by Rosy Glow Chocolates on Beach Road (not always open in winter) or buy a luscious gift at Living Light Candles on Tukurua Road, back toward Takaka a short way. For a really wacky experience, try a visit in August, when the town celebrates its annual "Gnome away from Home" Festival weekend.