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Best Things To Do in Collingwood, Golden Bay, New Zealand

If you happen to be in Collingwood, New Zealand, you should seriously consider extending your stay. You’ll discover a quaint village by the sea surrounded by picturesque coastlines, pristine rivers, majestic forests, and breathtaking mountain views. Keep reading to find out the best things to do in Collingwood and the phenomenal Golden Bay attractions nearby. We’ll also share our top picks for where to eat and sleep.

A seal on a rock in Collingwood with its mouth open.
We fell in love with this seal basking in the sun at our campsite in Collingwood.

The Best Things To Do in Collingwood Golden Bay

There are plenty of fun things to do in Collingwood, from exploring the town’s rich heritage with its history of gold mining to enjoying the area’s natural beauty. Collingwood attractions provide a varied and engaging experience for people of all ages.

Explore Collingwood Village

The charming village is at the mouth of the beautiful Aorere River. The best part is that you can reach the beach within a few minutes of walking. 

The main street, Tasman Street, is the commercial centre of Collingwood and can be walked in minutes. It has museums, several shops, a pub, and a couple of cafes.

There are several historic buildings from the early 1900s, and St Cuthbert’s Church (on Elizabeth St.) dates back to 1873. 

You will also find some cool Collingwood street art adorning the buildings around the town.

View of Mad Cafe and the quirky main street of Collingwood.

Collingwood Museum

In the centre, history enthusiasts will want to visit this quaint museum. 

The museum’s building is the old council office, which dates back to 1910. The showroom offers insights into the town’s rich heritage and the stories of its early settlers.

Aorere Centre

Next door, Aorere Centre showcases the town’s history through Fred Tyree’s photography.

Golden Bay Machinery and Early Settlers Museum

Another museum, just a 5-minute drive from Collingwood, is especially for lovers of historic machinery. The Golden Bay Machinery and Early Settlers Museum is home to vintage tractors and farming machinery.

Enjoy the Views at Rautaniwha Inlet & Aorere River 

Much of Collingwood’s town centre backs onto the Rautaniwha Inlet. The water and mountain views are Instagram-worthy, and seating is available along the banks and jetty.

Stroll along the Aorere River’s banks towards the river mouth and look for seals, sometimes basking on the shores. Also, take advantage of the enchanting sunsets observed from the banks. We consider watching the sunset across the inlet one of the very best things to do in Collingwood.

View of a cabbage tree and a bright red and orange sunset over the river in Collingwood, Golden Bay

Visit Beaches in Collingwood and nearby

Collingwood Beach is less than a 5-minute walk from the village centre. 

The views from the beach to Cape Farewell are stunning, and you will often find yourself the only person on the beach besides the odd local fisherman. 

If you’re looking for Golden Bay’s best beaches, check out our article through the above link to find the beach that’s right for you.

Go Horse Riding at Onekaka

A 15-minute drive from Collingwood, visit Hack Farm for horse treks, lessons and cart rides by the beach. 

They offer a campsite where guests can enjoy family-friendly activities like using the Pizza Oven, Rope Swing, and Climbing Wall. This makes it one of the best things to do in Collingwood for families.

Hikes in Collingwood

A few hikes in the area offer the opportunity to get up and close to nature. 

Washbourn Scenic Reserve 

Take a 10-minute drive to Washbourn Scenic Reserve. This 30-minute forest trail is for those who prefer short walks. 

Aorere Goldfields Hike

A 15-minute drive from Collingwood, the historic goldfields offer a 3-hour walk past mine relics. For adventurers, there are caves to visit, too.

Hike to Wharariki Beach

Wharariki Beach, just a 30-minute drive from Collingwood, is one of the best hikes in Golden Bay. The beach is famous for its wind-swept sands, towering rock formations, and epic sand dunes.

The hidden gem can be reached with a short walk that takes about 40 minutes (round trip). Many visitors consider Wharariki Beach one of the top things to do in Collingwood.

Female walking on sand dunes at Wharariki Beach, Golden Bay.

Read our post on all the best short walks in Golden Bay next.

Kahurangi National Park

Kahurangi National Park beckons serious hikers with its rugged landscapes and awe-inspiring vistas. It offers one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, the Heaphy Track.

The start of the track can be reached in about 40 minutes by car from Collingwood. Walking the length of the track to the West Coast takes 4-6 days.

Farewell Spit Tour & Puponga Farm Park Tracks

Farewell Spit, a natural wonder stretching over 35 kilometres, offers an array of picturesque walking trails from its base at Puponga Farm Park. Walks range from leisurely 10-minute strolls through tranquil coastlines to more challenging 5-hour treks through farmland, forests, and breathtaking vistas; there’s something for every type of walker. 

However, public access to the spit is limited to the first 4 kilometres. You can take a Farewell Spit Tour to see the vital bird sanctuary and wetlands. The tours also take you to the historic lighthouse and Cape Farewell, the South Island’s most northern point.

A Farewell Spit Tour and these diverse walks are many visitors’ favourite Collingwood tourist attractions, and we consider them among the top 10 things to do in Collingwood.

New Zealand South Island Travel Insider Guide tip: While we love Collingwood and its central location between Takaka and Farewell Spit, our favourite small town in Golden Bay is Pohara. We usually like to stay a few nights at each location. Read more about Pohara and the perfect beaches by clicking the link above.

Best Places to Eat in Collingwood Golden Bay

It may be a small town, but it has a vibrant atmosphere. Leave the car at your accommodation and stroll along the main street to discover cozy cafes while browsing the street art.

The Courthouse Cafe, a historic light blue building in Collingwood, Golden Bay

Courthouse Cafe

Visit this historic courthouse (built in 1901) for aromatic coffees and freshly baked treats. A favourite destination for locals (it’s also our favourite place for brunch), the Courthouse Cafe has outdoor seating with a view of the street and village life. 

Besides the best food in the area, the beautiful building is also one of the best things to see in Collingwood.

MAD Cafe Golden Bay

Another local favourite, the controversial MAD Cafe, is the place to be if you want your coffee served with a massive side of art and social politics.

MAD Cafe has received mixed reviews for its extreme views; however, the artistic-looking cafe is worth a look for those who appreciate art.

Collingwood Tavern

Collingwood Tavern is an excellent spot for enjoying a beer and some pub grub with stunning water views, especially during sunset.

The Mussel Inn Golden Bay

A 10-minute drive towards Takaka, this iconic place is a much-loved local hang-out.

Serving craft beer, The Mussel Inn often has live music in the evenings.

Their specialities include pies, quiches, fresh steamed mussels, and mussel chowder.

Best Collingwood Accommodation Golden Bay Options

You can search online and choose between bed and breakfasts, holiday rentals, or motels, but our favourite place to stay is the Collingwood Holiday Park. 

The Collingwood Holiday Park offers powered and unpowered sites. It also has quaint cabins, some of which are waterfront. The park’s riverfront setting is the highlight, making this Collingwood motor camp one of the best holiday parks in Golden Bay, as voted by us recently.

Additionally, we love staying at the Collingwood Park Motel when we want more comfort. Its attraction is that it’s in the town centre and borders the Ruataniwha Inlet. Plus, the beach is only a 3-minute walk away.

View of lush green mountains and green water at Collingwood Jetty.
Collingwood Jetty is one of the coolest things to do in Collingwood, Golden Bay, New Zealand.

How to Get To Collingwood New Zealand

If you arrive in Picton from the North Island by ferry, it is a 2-hour drive to Nelson and another 2-hour drive from Nelson to Collingwood. The scenic drive passes through Motueka and winds up and down Takaka Hill. 

Takaka to Collingwood is a 20-minute drive.

Is Collingwood NZ worth visiting?

Yes! We love it so much we visit at least once a year.

There are many interesting and free things to do in Collingwood, New Zealand. The region offers many activities that immerse you in its natural wonders and heritage. 

Further, the charming village offers a peaceful retreat and is a perfect base to explore Golden Bay’s attractions.

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