The climb from Motueka reveals superb views over Tasman Bay to Nelson and beyond, but once the summit of Takaka Hill is crossed, at 791 metres above sea level, Golden Bay suddenly appears with startling beauty.
From Harwood Lookout the zig-zagging highway below leads the eye to the green valley of the Takaka River running north towards the distant sea, while beyond the valley rise the dramatic Tasman Mountains, home to the country's most spectacular alpine meadows.
From 1914 this tiny isolated cottage in the Cobb Valley was home to Henry Chaffey and Annie Fox for nearly 40 years. The couple were largely self-sufficient; Henry would hunt deer and goat, and a well tended garden supplied various fruits and vegetables. Four beds have been set up in the tiny
bedroom and the hut is available as accommodation for trampers. It is a 2 hour walk from the Cobb Valley Road.
The Bay is ideally suited to dairy farming, with some of the highest annual sunshine hours in the country and rainfall between two and three metres a year. Golden Bay dairy farmers produce 530,000 litres of milk per day in the peak season, and it is processed at the Fonterra Takaka plant.
Just before the actual Takaka Hill summit is the unsealed road to Canaan Downs; a 12-kilometre drive and a 40-minute walk leads you to Harwood's Hole which is 183 metres deep.
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 shelter belts of nashi and kiwifruit orchards.
Breaks in your journey may be made at Hawkes lookout and at the top of Takaka Hill to enjoy the breathtaking views of the world below from lookout points and short walks on either side.
Within Kahurangi National Park lies the Arthur Range and its culminating peak, Mt Arthur.
Further to the west is a great uplifted plateau, the Mt Arthur Tableland, and the Cobb Valley.
This region is one of the most interesting in the country for trampers and naturalists with its impressive mountain and bush scenery, remarkable botany and geology, and human stories. The Cobb Valley is one of the gateways to Kahurangi National Park.
The Takaka River runs north for 70 kilometres joining with Waingaro River just south of Takaka township. Enjoy it for swimming or trout fishing.
Takaka Hill, as many other areas in and around the Golden Bay, has also been the location for many scenes filmed for The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
The Cobb River flows for twelve kilometres from the lake through a wide, glacier-formed valley set between high mountains. It eventually drains into the artificial Cobb Reservoir, formed 50 years ago when the river was dammed for hydro electricity generation. Below the reservoir, the river rambles for a further eight rather inaccessible kilometres until it joins the Takaka River below the Cobb Powerhouse. This river then winds its way down through the township of Takaka and into the wide expan
This popular mountain bike track follows one of the earliest surveyed routes into the Takaka Valley and runs from Canaan to Central Takaka.
Views from the open sections are superb. From the Harwood's Hole carpark go through the gate at the western end and ride for 10 - 15 minutes to the start of the track (signposted). Allow 2 hours from the carpark to Takaka.
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. The main road follows down the valley hugging the base of the Pikikiruna Range. The "Marble Mountain" is a colloquial name as it is the source of New Zealand's only quality marble rock.
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. There are attractions for everyone, from the most active tramper to the motorist wanting nothing more than a stimulating drive.
The 27km drive from Upper Takaka winds through the impressive Takaka River gorge, through a red and silver beech forest.