Takaka Hill (791m) butts in between Tasman Bay and Golden Bay. It looks pretty bushy but closer inspection reveals a remarkable marble landscape formed by millions of years of erosion. Its smooth beauty is revealed on the one-hour drive over the hill road (SH60), a steep, winding route punctuated by spectacular lookout points and a smattering of other interesting stops.
Just before the summit is the turn-off to Canaan Downs Scenic Reserve, reached at the end of an 11km gravel road. This area stars in both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies, but Harwoods Hole is the most famous feature here. It’s one of the largest tomo (caves) in the country at 357m deep and 70m wide, with a 176m vertical drop. It's a 30-minute walk from the car park. Allow us to state the obvious: the cave is off limits to all but the most experienced cavers.