2013 population: 3,756
Māori know Golden Bay as Mohua. It was named Murderers' Bay after four of Dutch explorer Abel Tasman’s crew were killed in a skirmish with Māori in 1642. In 1770 James Cook included it as part of Tasman Bay (which he called Blind Bay), but in 1773 he corrected his mistake and referred to it as Murderers' Bay. In 1827 French explorer Dumont D'Urville changed the name to Massacre Bay, which it retained until the 1840s.
Following the discovery of coal at Tākaka in 1842 the bay was called Coal Bay for a time. It was renamed Golden Bay after gold was found near Collingwood in 1857.
Golden Bay is very shallow. In the late 1800s and early 1900s it was plied by small vessels, with wharves at Waitapu (Tākaka), Onekakā, Parapara, Collingwood, Pākawau and Pūponga.
2013 population: 1,236
Tākaka, Golden Bay’s main town, arose in the 1880s. It was never surveyed and just grew organically. Sawmilling was the main early industry. Dairying was established in the district from the early 1900s and became an important part of the economy. The milk-powder factory was a major employer in the 2010s.
The nearby Te Waikoropupū springs, a tourist attraction, have some of the clearest fresh water ever measured. Many artisans live in the Tākaka area, and their signs are visible along the roads. The flats are mainly dairy farms. Roads are crossed by dung-and-mud tracks marked by a small orange flashing light on a pole, showing where herds cross to reach the milking sheds in the early morning and evening.
Motupipi was originally surveyed in 1842, but only a few colonists had settled there eight years later. Tākaka instead became Golden Bay’s main town.
Clifton is a small locality on flat land on the road to Pōhara. The Grove Scenic Reserve offers an interesting short walk through limestone outcrops with nīkau palms and northern rātā.
The safe swimming beach of Pōhara is one of the busiest Golden Bay beaches during the summer. It offers many types of accommodation to holidaymakers. Onetahua Marae in Pōhara was established in 1986. Although it is the home marae for three local iwi (Ngāti Rarua, Ngāti Tama, and Te Āti Awa), its multicultural approach includes the wider community.
A memorial to Abel Tasman stands on a headland near Tarakohe, not far from the anchorage where Europeans and Māori first met, in 1642. At Tarakohe there are offshore bluffs of limestone outcrops and rock stacks. A plant manufactured and exported cement between 1909 and 1988. The small harbour was built in several stages to serve the cement shipments, and today is a popular moorage for fishing and pleasure boats.