|Both Connie and Fiona had recommended heading north towards Farewell Spit and as we hadn’t done that area at all that seemed sensible. The drive up was quite spectacular but as it was late in the afternoon and a sat night we really needed to find a room for the night so headed for Pohara. Sadly everything was booked as there was Mardi Gras on in the nearest town, Takaka, and evidently quite a few weddings taking place so we did begin to wonder if we would be homeless. In true NZ form a kind motelier suggested trying “The Shady Rest” , back in Takaka so off we set. We were not disappointed and found a fantastic B&B restored and owned by an Essex couple called Mark and Sarah. It had been run as a backpacker hostel at one time but had a lot of history attached to it and is now no 22 on the historic tour of Takaka. Anyway he was great and gave us lots of ideas to visit.
Sun 9th Feb…………….. Takaka….
Had planned to head up to Farewell Spit but when we visited the info centre, trips are dependent on the tides so as its about 1hr drive away we had missed the trip for that day so booked onto the next day. Mark had recommended a walk to Wainui Falls so we set off to do that. Sadly I had left my trainers back at B&B and the sign suggested sturdy shoes and one group were quite insistent I couldn’t wear flip flops. Decided to head off anyway and turn back if necessary especially as they mentioned yet another suspension bridge. Off we went following alongside the river, on a track that needed some care if you are wearing flipflops!! There were some youngsters sunbathing and swimming in the pools and according to Steve one was skinny dipping! Not that I noticed but he might have been so skinny that I missed him sadly. There were a few interesting bits along the way like land slips and very steep slopes that I had to slide down on the way back and lastly near the waterfall a rather high, narrow, bouncy suspension bridge. Fortunately only one person was allowed to cross at any one time so I could take as long as needed and control the “bounce”. Did it! Wow was it worthwhile to see the waterfall at the end. Amazing, and so cool with the spray from the water. Headed back down to the car to find somewhere for coffee. On the drive up we had seen a sign saying Espresso so decided to head back to there for a coffee When we arrived the place is called Jacques Cousteau’s. Now doesn’t that conjure up image! Anyway turns out it’s a rusty old boat with a bit of novel graffiti on the sides that is barely waterworthy let alone sea and from it this guy is serving coffee in a paper cup whilst his girlfriend sits reading the paper. Actually he is roasting the beans, grinding them and selling great coffee but he is missing a trick so interesting experience but!! Headed back into Pohara for lunch which was great value and yummy and then off to Te Waikoropupu Springs. These are only just outside Takaka and the whole place seems to have been upgraded over recent years as the paths are accessible to all and its only about 45 mins walk round. In the carpark the signs tell the Maori story of the area and their beliefs which is great. When you get to the springs they are these amazing clear deep pools with the spring very obviously bubbling up underneath. The colours are wonderful and the water so clear it is just like looking down on a coral reef. Absolutely brilliant. Head back to B&B for quick refresh before heading out to highly recommended( by loads of people) Mussel Inn just outside town. Firstly have a devils own job trying to find it! ……….Sat navs…….. but do eventually and can’t believe that its packed on a Sunday night. Turns out the local Bikers have been having some event over the weekend and they are handing out their trophies so there is a great atmosphere. Don’t think I have ever spent a night surrounded by so many men in leather with ponytails. Food is lovely and they are still open at 10 pm ….. result.
Have decided to spend 3 nights in total, in Takaka as today will be long day. Booked onto Farewll Spit tour which leaves at 11am from Puponga car park. We had hoped to visit Wharariki beach before the tour but girl in office says not time! Anyway visit Cape Farewell first which is the most northerly point of South Island and then go to café for coffee before bus arrives. Bus eventually turns up and John our guide explains about how the spit has formed and gives us loads of interesting info about it. Anyway here is some, its 26k long and 1k wide at high tide and about 32k long & 5 k wide at low tide. It is an amazing place to see and very hard to comprehend unless you have been there but its just sand with a few grasses growing in some parts and then close to the end is a light house and 3 buildings that housed the keepers years ago and I nearly forgot, a large colony of Gannets in the far distance. The whole trip lasts 4 hrs and they point out geologic features and any wildlife that is around – seals and birds, who were very obliging for us. Once you get to the lighthouse you are allowed to alight from the bus and explore for 45mins whilst John makes tea for everyone in one of the houses. This area plus 1 sand-dune and the first 4 k of the spit are the only areas you are allowed to walk on as it is a national park. When you walk to top of dune as the tide is out you really can see nothing but sand for miles and miles. The sea is literally right out on the horizon hence its name Golden Bay. Great trip and even Steve found it interesting. Back to car and off to the beach. Parked up and set off about 30 mins walk and reminds us of Hunters Inn in Devon. Eventually get there and set off walking to find some huge rocks in the sea that have holes in. They are not hard to find as they are huge but you do have to walk along the beach to see the holes otherwise they just look like massive rocks in the sea- hopefully a pic! Get back to car and in need of more tea so find Archway Café in car park. Basically its some enterprising person who has parked their van, camouflaged it to blend in with the bush then surrounded it with nicnacs and is playing 1920’s music. Currently it is being run by a young Italian guy who was great and his girlfriend is making the cakes to sell. Great place, real atmosphere.
As we have had a late lunch and we are tired we get some take away F&C and eat them in the park with some hopeful seagulls. Chippy only has Elephant fish left !! sold out of all the rest so we decide to be adventurous and go for it. Only have one portion as we are still full from lunch…but we did decide to splash out $1on tommy sauce…………. Costs $7 = £3.50 – that includes 2 pieces of fish and a large chips….and it was very tasty. Turns out it was from the shark family but still tasted nice.