Takaka, New Zealand

A weekend away in Takaka, New Zealand

Last Updated: 12th July, 2023

One of the coolest towns to explore while in the Nelson-Tasman region is the town of Takaka! Filled with colourful buildings, local art galleries, quirky cafes and restaurants, and nearby to the beautiful Golden Bay beaches, its got a little something for everyone!

Takaka Main Street, Takaka, New Zealand

Where is Takaka?

Takaka is the largest town in the Golden Bay region of the South Island of New Zealand! It is situated in the northwest part of the South Island, in the Tasman District. Takaka is approximately 100 kilometers northwest of Nelson, the nearest major city, and about 10 kilometers inland from the coast of Golden Bay. The town is nestled amidst picturesque landscapes, surrounded by rolling hills, mountains, and the stunning natural beauty of the area.

How do I get to Takaka?

By Car:

The most common way to reach Takaka is by driving from Nelson, which is approximately 100 kilometers away. The drive takes about 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on traffic and road conditions. You’ll need to take State Highway 60 from Nelson and continue onto Takaka Hill Road, which offers scenic views but can be winding and steep in some sections!

Takaka Hill, Takaka, Golden Bay

Shuttle Services:

If you prefer not to drive, you can also take shuttle services from Nelson to Takaka. There are several shuttle companies that offer transportation between the two locations. These services usually operate on scheduled timetables and provide comfortable and convenient transportation options.

Flights to Takaka Airport!

Takaka has a small airport called Takaka Airport! Golden Bay Air runs flights between Nelson or Wellington into Takaka, where they can connect you to shuttle services or car hire to explore this gorgeous region!

Things to do in Takaka!

Takaka is a small town with a friendly and relaxed vibe, and it is one of the main towns in Golden Bay! We loved our stay in Takaka, as it felt incredibly laid-back and relaxed, with an awesome art scene to explore! The town centre is filled with colourful buildings, boutiques, and quirky shops selling handmade crafts, jewellery, and organic products. There are also a number of art galleries and studios that showcase local designers which are worth a look!

Takaka Village Market

On Saturdays, there is a fantastic market to browse through, with loads of local produce, homemade goods, food, and live music! Its an awesome opportunity to mingle with locals and visitors alike, eat some delicious food and buy awesome locally-made goodies!

The market runs weekly during October to May during the warm summer months, and every 2 weeks during the less touristy winter months.

Farmers Market, New Zealand

9 Best Places to Eat (and drink) in Takaka!

1. Dangerous Kitchen | Cafe and Pizza Restaurant

Dangerous Kitchen is a popular café in Takaka, known for its delicious breakfast and lunch options, including vegetarian and vegan dishes! By night, they cook up some truely banging pizzas! They are 100% family owned and handmake their food, using the best quality organic ingredients where possible. Definitely a win-win in my book!

2. The Wholemeal Cafe | Breakfast and Lunch

The Wholemeal Cafe is a cozy and welcoming cafe that serves wholesome meals, including vegetarian and gluten-free options, as well as tasty desserts and freshly baked goods. It is located in an old theater and filled with artwork, giving it a fun, funky vibe!

3. The Woolshed Canaan | Cafe and Craft Store

The Whoolshed is a craft cafe located on Takaka Hill in the Golden Bay region, and is a great place to stop on the drive over to Takaka. They have a simple food selection, including decent coffee, sweet treats, and toasted sandwiches! They also have a small farm, were you can go and say hi to the animals!

4. Totally Roasted Cafe | Cafe and Coffee House

Freshly-roasted coffee and awesome breakfast options in a funky cafe, with good outside seating to enjoy that sunshine! A bonus: a good range of very tasty gluten free options!

5. Roots Bar | Bar and Gastropub

Beats. Beers. Burgers. Bands. If any of this sounds like a bit of you, then check this place out! Roots Bar is a vibrant hangout spot offering a variety of craft beers, live music, and a casual dining experience with pub-style food.

6. Dada Manifestó | Speakyeasy Lounge and Restaurant

A bloody good restaurant to check out while you are in Takaka! Awesome, locally sourced food with an emphasis on delicious seafood, as well as some banging pasta options.

7. Kimlee’s Thai Food | Thai Takeaway

Serving incredible thai food out of a food truck on Takaka’s main street, Kimlee’s Thai Food is a hidden gem of Takaka! The food is cooked fresh and individually, and shes awesome at dealing with dietary needs. It’s honestly some of the best thai food we’ve ever had! (and thats saying something).

8. Dancing Sands Distillery | Gin Distillery

Dancing Sands Distillery is a brick & mortar distillery with a cellar door where you can drop in for a free tasting and to learn more about how they make their products (free gin = always awesome!) Founders Ben and Sarah created the distillery in 2016, and now are producing some fabulous gins in one of the most beautiful locations in New Zealand.

9. Anatoki Salmon | Fishing and Restaurant

If you’re looking for a dining experience like no other, look no further than Anatoki Salmon. The challenge: you can eat your salmon, but first you have to catch it! Nothing beats fresh fish, and this is as fresh and you can get it. After you’ve caught your dinner, the fabulous staff with clean and prepare your salmon for you – hot smoked, sashimi style, or vacuum packed to take away.

Outdoor Adventures in Takaka!

Takaka is the gateway into Golden Bay, and a great place to base yourself while exploring this area! It is close to a number of stunning beaches, including Tata Beach and Ligar Bay! We spent a few days at these beaches, swimming, fishing, and kayaking around the headlands and the islands. Here are some of the best outdoor adventures around Takaka!

1. Rawhiti Cave

The hike to Rawhiti’s Cave is a must-do while you are hanging out in Takaka! This cave is filled with dramatic white stalactites hanging like teeth from the ceiling, and is truly impressive to explore!

The walk begins at the carpark, starts off following following the river bed at the bottom of a steep-sided valley. This is relatively easy-going, with lush ferns and nikau growing on either side. After about 1km, you begin the climb up the steep hillside! This isn’t easy going, with a rugged track and steep climb getting those thighs burning!

After 20 minutes of climbing the entrance to the cave (finally) comes into view. This is the largest cave entrance in New Zealand, and worth the climb! Once you have caught your breath, you can explore the incredible cave formations from the platform, as well as read more about the caves history and ecology!

Getting there:

The carpark for the Rawhiti Caves walk is located only 10 minutes drive from Takaka! As you leave the town, head northwest along the Abel Tasman Drive. At Motupipi, turn right onto Glenview Rd, then left onto Packard Rd. After a while you should see a DOC sign indicating the turnoff to the track, through a farm road. At the end will be a carpark, where your walk begins!

2. Te Waikoropupu Springs

Te Waikoropupu Springs Scenic Reserve is a natural wonder found just outside of Takaka! They are incredible to see, as they have some of the clearest water in the world! The water is filtered through the a natural underground aquifer, and enters the springs through 8 vents. Over 14,000 liters of water passes through every second! Yeeow!

There is an awesome little walkway that will lead you around the different springs, with viewing platforms that give you fantastic views into the crystal clear pools! Sometimes it’s hard to remember that these pools are around 7 meters deep, as you can see the white sand of the ground so clearly!

To read more on these incredible springs, including their incredible connection to Maori Culture, and instructions on how to get there, check out my more detailed post here!

3. Kayaking around Tata Islands

From Tata Beach, you can hire a kayak or grab your paddleboard and head out into the calm waters until you reach the magnificent Tata Islands! These two stunning islands –  Ngawhiti and Motu – are just a few kms off shore, and are protected nature reserves! Because of this, its a big no-no to land on the islands, but you can still take in all their beauty from the water!

Tata Islands, Golden Bay, New Zealand

If you’re looking at hiring a kayak, there is an awesome company located in Tata Beach who are sure to hook you up! Check out Golden Bay Kayaks – a local family business who have a lot of love and information they are happy to share!

4. Beaches near Takaka!

The beaches around Takaka are renowned for their beauty! With golden sand, crystal clear water and the sun always shining (well, almost), you could be forgiven for thinking you were on a tropical island! Here are my three favourite beaches near Takaka:

Tata Beach

As meantioned up above, Tata Beach is a beautiful sandy beach near the Abel Tasman National Park, around 16 minutes drive from Takaka! It is the perfect spot for a swim, a picnic on the beach, or a kayak out to the gorgeous Tata Islands!

Pohara Beach

A long stretch of golden sand ideal for beach walks, picnics, and sunsets. Pohara Beach is known for its family-friendly vibe, shallow waters, and stunning views of Farewell Spit.

Tata Beach, Takaka, Golden Bay

Ligar Bay

Nestled in between Tata Beach and Pohara Beach you will find Ligar Bay. Its perfect for a swim in the crystal clear waters, or for a spot of fishing off the rocks that flank the beach!

Arts and Crafts in Takaka

Takaka boasts a thriving arts and crafts scene that attracts artists, artisans, and creative individuals from all over! The towns artistic community is diverse, and the local artists often draw inspiration from the breathtaking landscapes surrounding Takaka!

Takaka is home to numerous art galleries and studios, where visitors can explore and purchase unique artworks created by local talent. The galleries feature a diverse range of styles and mediums, from traditional to contemporary, ensuring there’s something to suit every artistic taste. While in Takaka, you should check out:

Monza Gallery

This gallery is set within a charming colonial building in the heart of Takaka, and features some incredible local art! Including paintings, jewellery, sculpture, pottery and woven baskets, there is always some incredible pieces on display!

Earth Sea Gallery

Earth Sea Gallery showcases the incredible artwork of Peter Green, a local artist who creates stunning paintings of the natural landscape. Expect mindblowing images of golden beaches, lush forests, native animals and snowy mountain ranges.

Stone Arrow Jewellery

StoneArrow Jewellery is a boutique artisan business that creates incredible products inspired by nature! What makes StoneArrow special, is that they focus on creating high quality and sustainable jewellery made from recycled materials. How cool!

Where to stay in Takaka!

Boutique Hotels in Takaka

1. Ratanui Lodge | Takaka

Located just a short distance from Takaka township, Ratanui Lodge offers a charming and intimate atmosphere. The boutique lodge features individually designed rooms, each with its own unique character and style. Guests can enjoy the lush gardens, unwind by the outdoor pool, or savor delicious cuisine at the on-site restaurant. With its warm hospitality and attention to detail, Ratanui Lodge provides a cozy and memorable experience.

2. The Rocks Chalets | Takaka

Nestled amidst nature and overlooking the beautiful Takaka River, The Rocks Chalets provides a tranquil and secluded retreat. The chalets are tastefully decorated and equipped with modern amenities. Each chalet features a private deck or patio, allowing guests to relax and enjoy the serene surroundings. With friendly staff and personalized service, The Rocks Chalets offers a delightful stay for those seeking a peaceful getaway.

3. The Sandcastle | Pohara Beach

Situated near the stunning Pohara Beach, The Sandcastle is a boutique hotel that offers a blend of comfort and luxury. The hotel features spacious and elegantly designed rooms, many of which offer breathtaking views of the beach and the surrounding area. Guests can indulge in the hotel’s amenities, including a swimming pool, hot tub, and on-site restaurant. The Sandcastle combines beachside charm with upscale accommodation, making it an ideal choice for a relaxing and stylish stay.

Budget-friendly Accommodation in Takaka

1. Waitapu Springs B&B | Takaka

For travellers on a budget who still want a relaxing experience, Waitapu Springs B&B is for you! An affordable bed and breakfast, with complementary use of their fabulous spa facilities – including a Scandinavian wood-fire sauna, cedar hot tubs, an indoor pool and more! I mean, how perfect does this sound!

2. Annies Nirvana Lodge | Takaka

This is a gorgeous hostel located in the heart of Takaka, with private and shared dormitories available! The highlight of this hostel is its friendly and welcoming atmosphere, and the gorgeous garden!

3. The Innlet Hostel and Backpackers | Pakawau

The Innlet is a popular budget-friendly accommodation option for those wanting to get off the beaten track! Located just a 30-minute drive from Takaka, this is perfect for backpackers and budget travelers. The hostel offers a range of dormitory-style rooms and private rooms at affordable rates. Guests have access to communal facilities, including a shared kitchen, lounge area, and outdoor garden. The Innlet provides a friendly and relaxed atmosphere, making it an ideal choice for those seeking affordable and social accommodation.

FAQs about Takaka, New Zealand

What does the name Tākaka mean?

The name “Tākaka” originates from the Māori language. While there are different interpretations, it is believed to refer to the call of a native bird, the kākā, which is found in the area. The name Tākaka can be translated as “to chit-chat” or “to converse,” reflecting the bird’s vocal nature.

What region is Tākaka?

Tākaka is located in the Golden Bay region of the South Island of New Zealand. Golden Bay is part of the Tasman District, which is known for its stunning natural landscapes, including beaches, mountains, and forests.

How long is Takaka Hill?

Takaka Hill is a prominent geographical feature that connects the town of Tākaka to the rest of the South Island. It is approximately 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) long. The road over Takaka Hill, State Highway 60, offers scenic views of the surrounding area and is a popular route for travelers heading to Golden Bay.

How to get to Golden Bay?

Golden Bay can be accessed by road or air. By road, you can travel to Golden Bay by driving on State Highway 60, which leads to Tākaka. This highway connects with the rest of the South Island road network. The journey includes crossing Takaka Hill, which offers picturesque views but can be winding and narrow in some sections.

Alternatively, you can fly to Golden Bay’s local airport, Takaka Airport (also known as Takaka Aerodrome). Flights to Takaka are available from Wellington and other regional airports. Once you arrive at the airport, you can make arrangements for transportation to your desired destination within Golden Bay.

What is the history of Takaka?

Takaka has a rich history, with both Māori and European influences. The area was originally inhabited by the Māori people, who thrived on the abundant natural resources of the region. European settlers arrived in the mid-19th century, establishing farms and logging operations.

During the gold rush era in the 1850s, gold was discovered in the nearby Aorere River, attracting a significant influx of miners. However, the gold rush was short-lived, and the region’s economy shifted towards farming and timber extraction.

Today, Takaka and Golden Bay are known for their alternative and artistic communities, drawing people who appreciate the natural beauty and seek a relaxed lifestyle. The region has become a popular destination for tourists, offering a unique blend of stunning landscapes, vibrant arts and crafts, and a laid-back atmosphere rooted in its rich historical heritage.

Thank you for reading my post on visiting the fun and funky town of Takaka! We loved our travels through here, and into the Golden Bay region!

If you liked this and want to read more on travelling around Golden Bay, please check out my post here!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *