Golden Bay, hidden corner of Aotearoa

King’s Birthday orienteering 2024

Nelson Orienteering Club invites all orienteers, from New Zealand and overseas, to celebrate high quality orienteering in the top of the South Island of New Zealand for King’s Birthday 2024, the long weekend of 1 – 3 June 2024. The team of setters and controllers are planning to deliver great courses in one of the most beautiful locations of this already pretty stunning country: Golden Bay, off the beaten track one bay over from Nelson, in the northwest corner of the South Island of Aotearoa.

Golden Bay is a coastal area which is bordered by two national parks – the Kahurangi National Park in the southwest and the Abel Tasman National Park in the northeast. It has a total population of around 5,000 people and is loved for its natural beauty and the many outdoor opportunities, with safe swimming from golden sand beaches, rock climbing, fishing, kayaking and more.

Main town Takaka is known for its alternative lifestyle, arts and crafts, galleries, shops and laid-back country lifestyle. It can be reached via a two-hour drive from Nelson Airport and also has its own airport with flights available direct to and from Wellington.

Many thanks and acknowledgements are due all around for those volunteers contributing a great deal of time to plan, control and organise these events, with a special thanks to Michael Croxford for his vision in making this event a reality.

This website is the best place to be for everything you need to know about KBGB2024, and any updates / changes.

The same information will be available in pdf-format:


The programme consists of three A-grade level orienteering events. The SportIdent (SI) punching system will be used in all events with Si Air+ enabled. Competitors may use their own or hire from the KBGB2024 organisation via the entry process.

DateDescription terrainSetterControllerFirst Start time
MiddleSaturday 1/6/24Canaan DownsRolling farmland and moderate to fast open beech forest with intricate Karst topography: numerous tomos and marble rock outcropsAmelia HorneCalum Coombs1 PM
LongSunday 2/6/24Kaihoka LakesKarst rock formations and sand dunes on private farm land alongside the West CoastNeil MurrayJulian Maclaren10 AM
SprintMonday 3/6/24Golden Bay High School &
Takaka Primary School
School campusesRiley CroxfordRichard Greatrex9 AM

Fresh-former NOC president Matt Ogden described Canaan Downs as
“Pure New Zealand orienteering, the spiritual epicentre for the sport.”

Additional competitions

Additional competitions as part of KBGB2024 are:

  1. Pinestars versus Bushrangers Test Match;
  2. Trials for the New Zealand Secondary Schools’ team to compete for the Southern Cross Trophy in Australia;
  3. New Zealand Secondary Schools Regional Challenge;
  4. Final round of the National Orienteering and Sprint Leagues (NOL & NSL):
    • Race 7 and 8 of the National Orienteering League (Middle and Long);
    • Race 8 of the National Sprint League (Sprint).

Explanation for Secondary School Competitors

KBGB2024 incorporates the New Zealand Secondary Schools Regional Challenge (‘the Challenge’) and the trials for the 2024 New Zealand Secondary School representative teams which will compete in the Australian Schools Championships at the end of September in New South Wales (‘the Trials’):

  • The grades for school students differ from those at other competitions for both the Challenge and the Trials. The M/W14/16/18 grades are replaced with Junior Girls / Boys (JG / JB) and Senior Girls / Boys (SG / SB) grades;
    • Senior A grades (SGA / SBA) run red-level courses;
    • Senior B grades (SGB / SBB) will run orange-level courses;
    • Junior A grades (JGA / JBA) will run orange-level courses;
    • Junior B grades (JGB / JBB) will run yellow courses;
    • B grades are not offered at the Sprint.
  • All three races at King’s Birthday are part of the Trials and the Challenge;
  • Senior Boys/Girls A or B is for those 16 and over (as of 31 December 2024), but still at school ie. born in or before 2008;
  • Junior Boys/Girls A or B is for those aged 15 and under (as of 31 December 2024) ie. born in or after 2009;
  • All students seeking selection for the NZSS team in the Trials must enter the appropriate A-grade event (and must be Year 9 to 13);
  • Regional schools teams in the Challenge may include Year 8 students;
  • Interested students should read the Selection Notice to be released at a later date by ONZ.

While in the Golden Bay area…

The Tasman region is famous for its year-round sunshine, national parks, and a large creative community of working artists. While participating in KBGB2024, why not add a few days before or after?

Nelson Orienteering club members have been asked for their tips for visitors to Mohua, better known as Golden Bay.

The only way to reach Golden Bay by car is the scenic road journey over the windy Takaka Hill. Canaan Downs South, which is located off this road on the Motueka side, is the location of the ‘Middle’ on the first day of the event. Richard Greatrex, controller for the ‘Sprint’, emphasises the need to allow plenty of time to get up and over the Takaka Hill, and to “enjoy the sweeping turns of the road”! One very practical tip from Julian Maclaren, setter for the ‘Long’: “Don’t feed your kids ice cream before driving over this hill!”

Golden Bay’s best spots

Golden Bay has some of the most remote, wild, and wonderful spots in New Zealand. The western coast is full of long, windswept beaches, huge sand dunes, massive wetland areas, huge tidal estuaries, and rocky outcrops that belong on another planet.

  • Wharariki is the most accessible of the West Coast beaches, a wild, beautiful place where waves and wind have created massive rock and sand dune formations, and where a large NZ fur seal colony resides – hands down the favourite beach of NOC members . The beach can be reached by a twenty minute walk across farmland from an unsealed road. Wharariki Beach is famous for its epic sunsets, and for the drama of the Archway Islands jutting up from the waves just off the coast – a beautiful destination after completing the ‘Long’. While there anyway, also visit nearby Cape Farewell, to view not only the cliffs, archways and seals, but also the fence for the new sanctuary for the re-introduction of Pakaha fluttering shearwater, thanks in the main to a local business and volunteers.
  • Further down this western area is the Kahurangi National Park. In addition to the Heaphy Track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, the Kahurangi is full of hiking trails, huts and some of New Zealand’s very best backcountry areas. If you have time, maybe visit the Sylvester Lakes area, as recommended by Dale McDonald. In addition to Kahurangi, Julian Maclaren recommends visiting the Cobb Valley, “due to the very traversable wilderness that allows for unlimited off-track options”.
  • Less wild, but still beautiful beaches are Pohara, Tata Beach, and Michael Croxford’s recommendation of “… the beach in front of Milnthorpe… as the bush spills over onto the sand.” Exploring the Golden Bay coastline of pristine, quiet bays by kayak is pure bliss. The arboretum was planted almost exclusively by one local over a period spanning fifty years.
  • Te Waikoropupū Springs (better known as Pupu Springs) are the largest freshwater springs in New Zealand, and a visit is recommended by Sally Lattimore. The springs are located near Takaka, and are a ‘wahi tapu’ (sacred place) to the local Maori tribe. A kilometre loop walk through the forest around the spring takes around 45 minutes, to a platform jutting out over the water.
  • Recommended walks are:
    • Wainui Fall walks, recommended by Sally Lattimore;
    • Visiting The Grove Scenic Reserve: beautiful nikau vegetation set amongst naturally scluptured limestone builders and cliffs;
    • The short but intriguing Labyrinth Rocks Park walk;
    • The newly renovated Pupu Hydro Walkway: a historic hydro station and entertaining water race walk glued onto a hillside with patches of beautiful bush. the best route is anti-clockwise;
    • Fossil Point (1 hour return) from Triangle Flat, Farewell Spit;
    • A favourite of event coordinator Annemarie Hogenbirk is the Takaka Hill Walkway, just before the Takaka Hill summit on the Motueka side, with stunning views over Golden Bay and Kahurangi National Park.
  • For the more adventurous among you, Nathan Fa’avea promotes canyoning Campbell Creek, or trail running at Puponga, at the base of Farewell Spit. Rock climbers are well served with Paines Ford and Pohara, followed by a (very) cold dip. If you are into mountain biking, how about doing the famous Rameka Track from Canaan Downs to near Takaka, as recommended by Maggi Salmon and Calum Coombs, controller for the ‘Middle’. Local Richard English recommends visiting unique Raiwhiti Cave: “… Caving experience definitely not required; just enough fitness to take on the steep 30 minutes uphill part of the walk”. Rawhiti Cave is known as ‘geological eye candy’ and a two-hour return walk will take you to the most diverse limestone entrance and twilight zone flora of any cave in New Zealand, adorned with green and pink plants, moss, algae and stunning phytokarst formations. Golden Bay local Fleur Murray adds: “for the more adventurous and those staying on with spare days… Knuckle hill to Kaituna forks track on the West Coast (6-8hrs) or the Kaituna trapline to Kaituna forks track (5-6hrs). Best to swap keys with someone as one end is a 90min drive from Takaka!”
  • Most people explore Abel Tasman National Park from the Marahau side. As a result, the last section of the Abel Tasman Coast Track, from Totaranui (which can be reached by car from the Golden Bay side) to Wainui gets fewer visitors.
  • Tākaka, the main town in Golden Bay, has a bohemian, artistic vibe with many colourful murals. Along the main drag you’ll find art galleries, small shops selling locally crafted jewellery and ceramics, and hippie clothing stores.

Dine like the locals

If there’s one thing you’ll find in Golden Bay it is good hearty food made with local produce, combined with a laid-back dining experience:

  • In Tākaka, top favourite among NOC-ers is the Dangerous Kitchen, both for their great coffee, selection of goodies and great pizzas (closed on Sunday and Monday). In addition, Michael Croxford recommends the Wholemeal Café for a great start of the day with coffee and cake. According to Calum Coombs, “Roots Bar in Tākaka does a solid burger.”
  • When in Pohara, Dale McDonald recommends Takaka Infusion Street Life Café, for “yummy bakery treats and coffee”.
  • The Mussel Inn on the way to Collingwood is a favourite with locals like Richard English, “quirky with a good selection of beers” and a relaxed vibe with a large open fire during cold winter nights. The pub is simple but cosy, the menu simple but delicious.
  • Nathan Fa’avae’s go-to destination is the Courthouse Café in Collingwood, while Richard Greatrex recommends the MAD Café & Gallery a few metres further along, for its “nice range of well flavoured dishes”.
  • If you enjoy fresh fish and catch it yourself, a visit to Anatoki Salmon Fishing and Cafe (open every day 10AM-4PM) is highly recommended by Riley Croxford, setter for the ‘Sprint’, located about 15 minutes from Takaka. Here you can catch your own salmon and have it smoked on the sport. Or you could just relax over a salmon platter or pizza, overlooking the rearing areas and ponds. Anatoki Salmon have kindly supplied five fantastic “catch a salmon for free and have it smoked” vouchers worth a total value of $250, which some lucky competitors will find as spot prizes in their race packs.
  • One of Richard English’s favourite destinations is Molly B’s Café and Bar at Pohara, open from 9AM till late over King’s Birthday Weekend, “a great place for a meal, snack or drink“. Molly B’s especially welcomes orienteers and is offering competitors a very generous 15% discount on all food and drink purchases over the long weekend, simply by showing your race bib when paying. Phone reservations (03 525 7678) for evening meals are strongly recommended as this is a popular venue.
  • The supermarket hours are 8am- 7pm. There are public toilets and showers opposite the supermarket.

Finding your way

If you love to orienteer, you probably enjoy looking at maps. A very useful map to encourage walking/tramping in Golden Bay can be found at NewTopo, while supporting the cartographer creating all the rogaine maps in the area. In addition, NZTopo will donate $5 from the sale of each map to KB24 competitors to the Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter Trust.

Magical place

We are looking forward to experiencing Golden Bay with all orienteering participants. We have however a request – please, don’t tell anyone else about your destination at King’s Birthday weekend: we’d like to keep this magical place our secret…