The descent from the Marble Mountain ends abruptly at the gentle valley floor. To the left is the turn off up to the Cobb Valley, one of the gateways to the Kahurangi National Park.
Once the summit of Takaka Hill is crossed, at 791 metres above sea level, Golden Bay suddenly appears with startling beauty.
The Cobb Valley is one of the few places in New Zealand where the visitor can drive into and along, much of a high mountain valley carved by glaciers.
The flat expansive plains around Kotinga where the Anatoki River flows down to meet the Takaka River show a contrasting landscape of open dairy farm paddocks and carefully trimmed orchards.
The fishing and scalloping fleet unloads and anchors at Tarakohe Harbour, and there is a sizeable marina for commercial and pleasure boats.
A couple of left turns off the main road then brings you into Tata Beach, a lifestyle choice for many permanent residents and lots of rentable holiday homes and B&B's.
This is another of those places which doesn’t look anything special from the highway, but a leisurely exploration down a side road reveals unsuspected pleasures.
This tiny settlement was once a major industrial area. In the 1920's and 30's local iron ore was turned into pig- iron and iron pipes at the Onekaka Ironworks.
Coal occurs in many places throughout the Bay but nowhere were the seams as promising as at Puponga, where the mine opened up in 1899.
At low tide the sea retreats to a surprising distance, while at high water the tide floods into the tiny inlet in a noisy rush, turning the occasional white heron into a fisherman.
The spit is formed entirely from sand, derived from the erosion of granites, schists and other rocks on the West Coast.
The wind sweeping the western coast has resulted in a stunning landscape. Half-tide may reveal groups of seals, sometimes at play in the large rock-pools.
This is the second-largest estuary in the South Island and as well as being a beautiful landscape it is an important fishing and wildlife area.
Beyond Westhaven there are manuka moorlands to the left, high bluffs to the right. Suddenly there is a scatter of houses, and you are in Mangarakau.
has essential services, a petrol station, fire station, post shop, food store, tavern and campground. There is a wide selection of accommodation.
The township of Takaka, founded in 1854, is the main business, service and shopping centre for Golden Bay.