Golden Bay is one of New Zealand’s most diverse and appealing holiday
destinations. Nestled into the South Island’s north-west corner it sees one of the
highest sunshine hours in the country – a chain of steep and rugged mountains
protecting the rich alluvial plains, bubbling freshwater springs and clean clear
rivers. Its population is a mixed bunch of lifestylers who are as friendly as you
will find anywhere. It is also the gateway to one of New Zealand’s most treasured
national parks – Able Tasman.
This area has a rich Maori/European history. When Dutch explorer Abel
Tasman sailed into New Zealand waters in 1642 on the Heemskerck and
Zeehaen he rounded Farewell Spit and anchored in Golden Bay, making the
first known contact with Maori. Confusion and misunderstanding led to confrontation, and there was loss of life on both sides. So Tasman quickly
sailed away before sailing up the west coast of the North Island. After another
sighting of Maori, on the Three Kings Islands, they left New Zealand waters
on 6 January 1643. Tasman’s voyage is a landmark milestone in New
Zealand history. There is no earlier written record; no earlier known meeting.
The fishing here is good with plenty of Blue Cod year round and snapper and
kingfish in good numbers over the summer months. The beaches are also
renowned for their shellfish with Cockles, Pipis, Tuatuas and deeper species
like surf clams and geoducks in plentiful supply.