The road trip to Golden Bay is an extraordinary experience in itself - the highlight is a scenic drive over Takaka Hill, known as the marble mountain. There are well signposted lookouts along the way and the subterranean marvels of Harwoods Hole (176 metres deep) and the Ngarua Caves shouldn't be missed.
Near Takaka is Te Waikoropupu Spings, New Zealand's largest freshwater springs and a 'wahi tapu' (scared place) to the local Maori tribe (iwi). The easy walkways have interpretive panels.
Farewell Spit is another 'must do'. It's a nature reserve on a sand spit jutting into the Tasman Sea. You can walk on the base of the spit, and there are excellent 4WD (four-wheel drive) safaris (based in Collingwood) along to the lighthouse and bird habitats.
Nearby Wharariki Beach is wild and beautiful - wind and waves have created massive rock and sand dune formations.
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