Driving The Takaka Hill
Thursday, February 11th, 2021
We’re leaders in car rentals in Nelson. Not just because of our great fleet of affordable vehicles but because we’re also providers of helpful local knowledge. We’re always happy to share that inside info with you, and that includes the best drives around here. One we highly recommend is the Takaka Hill. It takes about one hour to drive from Nelson to the hill, and then there’s the drive over the hill itself to Takaka.
Takaka is well worth visiting. It’s situated at the south eastern end of Golden Bay in the Nelson Tasman region. As a community, it’s different! Many alternative lifestylers have made this place their home, and you can easily see why. It’s a town crammed with character, and you can feel this wherever you go including the great shops, the museum, the delightful cafes and the world-famous movie theatre with its quirky mix of traditional cinema seating, old-school sofas straight out of nana’s lounge, armchairs, and gigantic floor cushions.
Other attractions in the area include Te Waikoropupū Springs, which are the largest freshwater springs in New Zealand, and an eclectic art trail that shows off the region at its artistic and creative best. If you want to turn a day trip into an overnight affair, Takaka has great-value accommodation, including B & Bs and homestays.
To get to Takaka, you need to drive over the Hill! Takaka Hill is New Zealand’s longest hill and rises to 791 metres at its highest point, separating the lovely coastal communities of Golden Bay and Tasman Bay. Yes, the hill goes up a long way and it is a winding road but it is a great drive on a well-maintained road. There are repairs happening on the Hill at the moment, but the work sites are very well managed so you can expect to drive on the hill with minimum disruption. Before you set off though, check in with the NZTA for latest driving info.
Takaka Hill is renowned for being typical marble karst country. Karst is a topography formed from the dissolution of soluble rocks, including limestone, dolomite, and gypsum. It is characterized by underground drainage systems with sinkholes and caves, and these are abundant all over Takaka Nill. Some of the most notable caves include Ngarua Caves which are open to the public and feature deposits of moa bones. Meanwhile, Harwood’s Hole was once known as the deepest cave in New Zealand, and is also to be found on Takaka Hill. Unless you’re a very experienced caver, we strongly advise against going into Harwood’s Hole. It presents extreme dangers in some points – besides, there is plenty more to see around here!
Lord of the Rings fans will recognise many parts of Takaka Hill as the location for a number of scenes filmed for the trilogy, while back in the real world, you’ll see expansive and breathtaking Tasman Bay, Golden Bay and the mountains of Kahurangi National Park.
If you’re feeling active, check out Takaka Hill Walkway, a loop walk at the top of Hill. The walkway will lead you through captivating karst landscape, with amazing marble rock formations, sub-alpine scrub and beech forest, and incredible views of Kahurangi National Park and Takaka Valley.
You can’t come to our part of the world and not drive over Takaka Hill! The best way to do that is in one of our vehicles, of course. Contact us and we’ll help you traverse the Takaka in comfort, safety and style.