Tasman: Golden Bay-Pohara

Golden Bay, aptly named and oh, so inviting

Golden Bay’s name came from gold mining, coincidentally fits the color of its beaches. This post: 1) Pohara, 2) Beaches, 3) Wainui Falls, 4) Ancient Boulder Fields: Grove Scenic Reserve & Labyrinth Rocks, 5) Te Waikoropūpū (Pūpū) Springs.

Golden Bay Has It All!

A paradise for hikers, kayakers, surfers, campers, fishermen, twitchers, sun-lovers, divers, sailors, abseilers, bikers, ecologists, geologists, and painters. Or, you can simply eat, drink, and relax (but I truly don’t know why you would do that.)

Our visit was blissfully solitary.

Location: From Nelson about 90 minutes (107 km/66m) via notorious Tākaka Hill (link) and the hill’s 257 corners and hairpin turns.

1) Pohara – Love at First Sight

From Tākaka, a much more likely tourist stop, the road zigzags to Pohara. Abel Tasman Drive, sandwiched between the sea and cliffs, ends at Wainui Bay, where you pick up a rough track to access Abel Tasman Park/Totaranui.

Port Tarakohe Harbor and Marina

2) Pohara Shores

Pohara Beach, Ligar Bay, and Tata Beach are typical of the shoreline along the coast of Abel Tasman Park. Stunning beaches with amazingly clear water and colors of teal, gold, green, accented by the red blossoms of the pohutukawa tree.

Pohara is a tiny town with vacation rentals and a handful of motels. Our AirBnB was a treat for two weeks in December.

3) Wainui Falls Track

East of Pohara is an easy bush track to Wainui Falls. With a springy wire suspension bridge, it’s a “keep a hand on the kids” track at times. In the stream are boulders the size of trucks. The track ends at a plunge pool into which the 20m falls cascade.

4) Ancient Boulder Fields

“Best ever 30 minute walk!” SS

Two sweet-as walks – both inside an hour. Description: Tākaka is known for Karst landscape with NZ’s oldest rocks, 400 million years old. Rainwater corrodes boulders that form sculptures of vertically fluted rock and widely opened joints, collectively known as karren (below). Add a little moss and it’s hobbit-land.

Grove Scenic Reserve

A DOC reserve with a track around giant boulders. Roots from twisted rata trees entwine around the giant limestone formations and naturally formed “faces”. A narrow slot through the towers leads to a lookout above Golden Bay.

Labyrinth Rocks

A man-made “maze” of paths winding around the formations. We had the place nearly to ourselves. (Adults – ignore the figurines placed to entertain the kids, but don’t underestimate the visuals.)

5) Pūpū Spring (Te Waikoropūpū “The Water of Life”)

NZ’s largest freshwater springs and the largest cold water springs in the Southern Hemisphere, Te Waikoroūpū Springs, whose water quality has remained stable for 22 years, is amongst the clearest waters in the world (visibility 63m). The only currently-known freshwater to be optically pure (70-80m) is Blue Lake in Nelson Lakes National Park (link to post)

Pūpū Springs is a very large natural spring of interconnected vents that pump our 14,000 liters/second. The water is sacred to Māuri.


  • Ratanui Lodge – Gin Bin, Pohara
  • Brigand Cafe, Roots Bar, and Te Kiwi Distillery, Tākaka
  • Anatoke Salmon Fishing and Cafe
  • Mussel Inn (near Pūpū Spring)


  • Totos Pizzeria (on the hill to Totaranui)
  • Courthouse Cafe

What We Missed

  • Heaphy Track, Kahaurangi Park
  • Tata Beach Golden Bay Kayaks -to the northern end of Abel Tasman Park
  • Farewell Spit Birding Tour
  • Pupu Hydro Walkway (2 hrs) gold-mining water race, Kahaurangi Park
  • Paines Ford Tramline Track (1 hr), follows 1880-1905 tramline

More Tasman Posts

The top of South Island is a motherlode of diversity. See following links:

  1. Kaiterteri, Split Apple Rock and Harwoods Hole
  2. Cape Farewell – Wharariki Beach used as the MS Windows Image
  3. Abel Tasman Park Coast Track

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5 thoughts on “Tasman: Golden Bay-Pohara

  1. The enormity of it all is put into perspective when you and Steve stand next to the boulders. I love the velvet boulders…aka moss covered! Another beautiful post!

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