Remote Golden Bay, in the northwestern corner of New Zealand's South Island, is a bit of a journey to get to—but those who make the effort find it completely worthwhile. Here's what you need to know about getting to Golden Bay, whether you choose to go by road, air, or even long-distance hike through one of the adjacent national parks.
By Rental Car or Private Transfer
There's only one way into Golden Bay by road, and that's over the Takaka Hill along State Highway 60. If you've flown into Nelson from other parts of New Zealand, you can easily pick up a rental car here. The Takaka Hill is a winding road that can be quite challenging for less-experienced drivers, but doesn't require anything as dramatic as a four-wheel drive.
The 64-mile (103-kilometer) journey from Nelson to the small town of Takaka in Golden Bay takes about 1 hour 45 minutes, while the 80-mile (130-kilometer) journey from Nelson to Collingwood, further west in Golden Bay, takes just over two hours. Start from Nelson on State Highway 6, then turn west onto State Highway 60 just past Richmond.
It's also possible to charter a bus from Nelson to Takaka. These must be booked in advance, even when timetabled, as they run according to demand.
The easiest way to get to Golden Bay from other parts of New Zealand by air is to fly to Nelson, and then drive the rest of the way. Nelson is a reasonably large town (by New Zealand standards), and there are direct daily flights from Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch.
Daily flights to Takaka also depart from Nelson and Wellington and can be chartered for private trips, too. These are generally more expensive than flights between main centers in New Zealand.
Golden Bay is surrounded by two national parks—the Abel Tasman National Park and the Kahurangi National Park—as well as the North West Nelson Conservation Park. Some of New Zealand's most renowned long-distance hikes traverse these parks, ending in Golden Bay.
Abel Tasman's Coast Track crosses from Marahau on the Tasman Bay side to Wainui on the Golden Bay side. The full 37-mile (60 km) trek takes 3-5 days.
The Heaphy Track, through the Kahurangi National Park, starts (or ends) at Kohaihai in the West Coast district, and ends at Brown Hut in Golden Bay. The 48-mile (78-kilometer) track takes 4-6 days.