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nelsonian Nov 15th, 2021 07:17 PM

Three weeks around Golden Bay
DH and I had planned a three week caravan trip to the Gisborne/East Coast area of the North Island. However with the Covid outbreak in Auckland and Waikato and the chance that it could go elsewhere in the North Island we cancelled our ferry ticket, and instead decided to do a trip around Golden Bay, at the top of the South Island. This area is only about a two and a half hour drive from where we live in Nelson. We have lived here for 17 years and only spent a small amount of time in this area.

We actually spent the first few days of our trip at Kaiteriteri, which is not in Golden Bay, but at the bottom of the Takaka hill, a gorgeous golden sand beach with stunning views from the Kaiteriteri Holiday Park. We had a front row site so looked out to the beach every day, just beautiful. It is still the off season so not too many tourists around, which was nice. We mostly chilled out during this time, went for walks along the beach, went for a 10km bike ride from Kaiteriteri to Marahau, thank goodness we had E bikes. One of the days we went to the Riwaka Resurgance swalkway where you can see the source of the Riwaka river coming out of the marble rock of Takaka hill. It was very pretty, and just a short walk from the car-park.

We attempted another bike ride from Kaiteriteri to Split Apple Rock only about 5 km, but rather hilly and windy. We got just past the turnoff to Split Apple Rock when the chain on my bike broke, so I had to stay with the bike while DH rode back to the caravan to pick up the car, and drive back to me and the bike. I had to wait about 25 minutes or so. DH can bike faster than me going downhill, I tend to have both hands on the brakes and go down slowly. Once we had loaded the bike into the back of the car we carried on to the Rock itself, which in itself was a 15 minute walk down to the beach. It was stunning, a few people swimming, and the weather was nice and hot.

We left Kaiteriteri after 5 nights, and made our way over Takaka hill to Collingwood. Takaka Hill is a bit og a challenge with a caravan, it is a very steep with lots of twists and turns. Thankfully we have a small caravan so wasn't too much of a hassle, just have to take it slowly. There was a lot of slips on the hill from flooding about three years ago, and roadworks is still being done to stop more slips happening, and fix up the road. Part of it is one way so you have to wait for up to 15 minutes depending on when you arrive at the traffic lights. Once over the hill you end up driving through Upper Takaka a very small settlement, then Takaka itself, a village with some different shops and restaurants. There are a lot of alternative life-stylers in the Bay so there are quirky shops and restaurants. We carried onto Collingwood about 30 minutes from Takaka, not far from the start of Farewell Spit. To be continued!!
Split Apple Rock Beach
Split Apple Rock
Riwaka River
Clear water Riwaka River
Riwaka river source
Marahau (Tide way out)
Breaker Bay next bay to Kaiteriteri. This house is right on the beach.
Other view of Kaiteriteri beach
Wakas (Maori canoes about to go out)
Wakas out on the water

crellston Nov 16th, 2021 02:56 PM

We love the Golden Bay and have twice spent a week there during our campervan tours of NZ. we always visit in winter/spring and have always had terrific weather. last time we stayed a couple of nights at Totanarui DOC site and had it to ourselves (there is space for 1200 apparently! Cant imagine taking a caravan over Takata Hill - bad enough in a camper van..Great photos - Brough back a lot of great memories!

nelsonian Nov 16th, 2021 06:45 PM

Our reason for going to Collingwood was to go on the Farewell Spit Eco Tour. Having lived in the Tasman area for 35 years or so we still hadn't visited Farewell Spit although we had thought about it many times. You have to go on an organised tour as only a few people are granted concessions to travel on the Spit. The time of the trip is also dependent on the tide. We looked at the weather forecast, and decided Thursday 4th Nov, would be the best weather-wise, and the tide meant it would leave Collingwood at midday, which was good for us. Meant we could have an early lunch before we left.

As there was still a few days to go before this tour we had to fill in the days before that. I had heard about Wharariki beach which was about 45 minutes drive from Collingwood, and was just west of Cape Farewell the northern most point in the South Island. Once you get to the car-park there is another 20 minute walk over farmland to get to the beach itself. I had heard that you could see baby seals playing in the rock-pools while their parents were at sea looking for food but unfortunately we should have gone at low tide. We didn't realise this until we talked to a woman running the cafe at the car-park. The walk to the beach was uphill for most of the way, but was not too difficult. When we finally arrived at the beach there were huge sand dunes which you had to climb down to get to the flat beach area. It is quite windswept and very scenic. There were perhaps three other groups of people there while we were there, but it felt like you were alone! Wharariki Beach is also known for it's Archway Islands, but again the tide needed to be lower for us to be able to walk around to them to get the views of the archways themselves. Overall it was a great way to spend a few hours.

The next day we drove around to the West Coast through and around the Whanganui Inlet. The tar-seal road runs out not far from Collingwood and the next hour and a half you are driving on a gravel road. The road ends completely at Anatori about two hours from the beginning of the trip. We made it to the Patarau river mouth about 15 minutes before the end of the road. It was a very scenic trip driving through native bush, and gorgeous views of the sea and the inlet. You have to return the way you came, so about a 4 hour trip overall.

We were glad we had booked Thursday for our Farewell Spit tour, as the wind the day before was horrendous, the worse the tour drivers had ever seen, they said you couldn't even see the sand dunes on the beach it was so bad. Thursday it was still windy but as we were in the bus most of the time it was okay. As NZ is still in level 2 Covid wise, we all had to wear masks on the bus, and social distance, ie every alternate row was used.

Farewell Spit is a narrow sand spit at the top of the South Island of NZ. It is an internationally renowned as a bird sanctuary, and is one of the longest natural sand spits in the world, as the tour driver said, the length of the spit varies from 27km - 35 km, depending on where you measure it from and how the sand dunes move. The trip itself too 6 hours, and we had a wonderful informative tour guide (Driver of the bus). The buses are all 4 wheel drive, and must be able to get out of quicksand that is sometimes on the spit. The drivers have to take great care they don't get stuck, they actually build an extra 30 minutes into the timetable in case this happens.

First we stopped at Cape Farewell the northern most point of the South Island, then headed to the Spit itself. The buses and some DOC vehicles are the only transport that is allowed on the Spit itself. The shifting sands and sand dunes were just amazing, and the guides gave a great commentary on all that happens on this natural sand phenomena. The bus ends up at the light-house which is about 3/4 way along the Spit, and there we all got off the bus, and had a coffee and a muffin at one of the old lighthouse keeper houses, now leased by the tour company. In the early days there were three lighthouse keepers working at one time each doing a different shift. Nowadays the lighthouse uses solar panels to provide the power to light the beacon, rather than electricity. The last of the keepers left in 1984. It was originally run by oil, the converted to electricity in the 1930's.
Thankfully the bus didn't get stuck although it came close. We all got out of the bus to climb to the top of one of the sand dunes, and we were told we could roll down it if we wanted. Uh no!!! We arrived back at Collingwood just after 6pm after a very enjoyable and informative 6 hour trip. Part 3 to come, Pohara, and Totaranui.
Whale Skeleton/Signpost Lighthouse Farewell Spit
Sunset Collingwood Holiday Park
Wharariki Beach view from walk
Wharariki Beach
Wharariki Beach
Sand Dune Wharariki Beach
Stile on Farm walk to Whararki Beach
Whanganui Inlet
Patarau Beach
Old Jetty Whanganui Inlet
Cape Farewell
Cape Farewell Archway
Tour Bus Cape Farewell
Fossill Point Farewell Spit
Driftwood on beach Farewell Spit, only driftwood on the beach!!
Massive sand dune Farewell Spit
Lighthouse Farewell spit
Shifting Sand
Top of Sand Dune

Melnq8 Nov 17th, 2021 06:24 AM

Signing on to read later when I have more time. I love this part of NZ, as you well know nelsonian.

martharap Nov 17th, 2021 08:32 AM

We spent hours watching the baby seals playing in the rock pools at Wharariki beach; just couldn’t leave-they were too cute!

Loved our Farewell Spit tour too!

The year we lived in NZ was the best year of my life! Majestic scenery at every turn.

nelsonian Nov 17th, 2021 05:55 PM

Forgot to mention on our arrival home from Farewell Spit, we picked up fish and chips from the Collingwood Tavern which is about two minutes walk from the Holiday Park. There is also a small grocery shop, and two or three cafes, in Collingwood itself. We just made coffee in the caravan mostly before we went on our daily road excursions. We left Collingwood on Saturday 6th November, heading to Pohara about 9 kms from Takaka, it was only about a 40 minute car-ride. You are not supposed to check in until 2pm, but we were at the Pohara Top10 camping ground just after 11am. It wasn't a problem though, as there were only about 6 vans or motor-homes there, and we were able to choose our own site. This park is absolutely packed over the Christmas holidays, the beach is so safe, it is very shallow, but great for younger children. We had camped here many years ago when you kids were smaller, and had a great time. The temperature was totally different from Collingwood, a lot hotter, and less wind. We had the most glorious weather on this trip. The most unusual thing about Pohara beach is that is grey sand, whereas most of the bays and beach from Kaiteriteri to Totaranui have golden sand.

Pohara is mostly about swimming, and boating which we weren't intending to do but we did do some walks and bike rides. We walked from the camp the first evening to Port Tarakohe, about a 2 km walk. Port Tarakohe used to be the main port for Takaka and was used mostly by the Golden Bay cement company, but this ceased operating in 1988. Now the port is used by the up and coming mussel farmers, and for boaties who use the marina for mooring their boats, and for holidaymakers over the summer. The Port is also home to a colony of little blue penguins. I belong to the NZ caravan Facebook page, and had read that you could see the penguins coming in at night to go to their burrows. In fact to help protect this colony, a lot of artificial nesting boxes have been built, and are well used. The next evening we decided to go penguin watching. We had been told anytime after 9pm we should be able to see the adult penguins coming in to the feed the chicks. However we waited around for probably 45 minutes and it was getting darker and darker so we eventually gave up. It was too dark to see anything then anyway! I had seen them at Phillip Island in Victoria, but would have like to see them again without having to pay.

Earlier in the day we had ventured out on our E bikes, riding to Tata Beach. This was about a 10 km bike ride all up, and was very enjoyable. We passed Ligar Bay on the way to Tata Beach, both golden sand bays, and both beaches are better for adult swimming as it is deeper water, closer into the shore. Tata Beach is well used by boaties to as there is a good boat ramp there to launch boats, jetskis etc. We spent about an hour or so there just sitting on the beach watching all the activity. We could see a seal further out on the water playing with something, turned out he had an octopus and was enjoying throwing it around. It was another beautiful hot day, we thought we deserved an ice-cream when we got back to our caravan.

My DH's birthday was on the Monday and I was planning on going out to dinner that night to celebrate. However as Pohara is only a small place and it was the off-season there were no restaurants or cafes open on Monday night, so we went out Sunday night instead. There was a restaurant directly over the road from the holiday park, but they had been playing music loudly since we arrived Saturday afternoon, and we were getting a bit tired of it so opted to go somewhere else. It wasn't really a good idea. We ended up going to Kororas Nest 100 metres or so down the road. There was one other couple having drinks, and us. I ordered seafood chowder, and DH had fish and chips and sald which he didn't enjoy. The chowder was okay but nothing to rave about. We sat outside under some sun umbrella's but the whole outside of the building was covered in cobwebs, the tables were covered in sand, just looked a bit neglected.

Monday we went for a bush walk to see Wainui Falls, it is about 12 kms from Pohara to the car-park, and then 30 minute walk to the actual waterfall, and 30 minutes back to the car-park. It was an easy walk, the sign says it will take about an hour 20, but you would have to be a slow walker to take that time to do it. It was a very pleasant walk, and the water-fall although not spectacular, was definitely worth taking the time to visit. There was a sign at the entrance to the car-park about a pizza place 3km further on, so decided to take a look as it was around lunch-time. However it turned out it was only opened on a Sunday, and 2km of the drive was on a gravel road. We decided to give it a miss. Totaranui in the final instalment!
Pohara Beach
Love the Penguin Sign
Port Tarakohe
On walk to Port Tarakohe
Sunset Pohara
Sea around Pohara
Tata Beach
Ligar Bay
Love the Palm Tata Beach
Tata Beach
Birthday boy
Waiting for penguins!!
At Wainui Falls carpark
Wainui River
Swing bridge just before Wainui Falls
Wainui Falls
Beautiful clear water
Love the archway/bushwalk

nelsonian Nov 17th, 2021 08:20 PM

oops distance from Collingwood to Pohara is 32 kms, not 9km. It really only takes about 20 minutes or so but we were going slow!!!

Melnq8 Nov 18th, 2021 06:28 AM

Enjoying your report nelsonian - we've been to all the places you've mentioned and have been to Farewell Spit twice - both times we were the only non-Kiwis on the bus. I suspect it's almost always windy thereabouts. Sounds like a lovely trip and looking forward to hearing more. You're making me very homesick for NZ - we haven't visited since 2018.

nelsonian Nov 18th, 2021 06:33 PM

Thanks Mel.

Our next stop was Totaranui, a place I had never been too but DH had when my daughter was on a school camp about thirty years ago, when he was one of the parent helpers. This camping ground is extremely popular over the summer holidays, and it is an old school type type, no power, and no internet or cell-phone coverage. You are also about 32 km from the nearest shops!! There is normally around 1000 people staying over the summer at one time. The road in is not sealed and it is quite narrow, so need to take it easy if towing a caravan. It is about 11km further on from the Wainui waterfalls, and we only met two cars and a campervan coming out, as we were heading in, which was good. One of the cars had to reverse a little bit to let us pass as we met on a corner.

We had been a bit dubious about camping here, as we are mod-con type campers, like having electricity, and having internet. It meant we would have to use gas for our fridge which we hadn't tried before. We always use gas for cooking, and the heater could also run on gas if needed, but it was warm while we there, so didn't need to use that. Our lighting relied on battery, so had to make sure that the battery didn't run low, we did have a solar panel which could charge it during the day if the sun was out. We had booked for 4 nights, but actually only stayed for 2, as the weather forecast started looking dodgy for the last two days.

It was incredibly peaceful at the camp-ground. Hardly anyone there, and the beach was gorgeous, the beach is about a 1km long, and again beautiful golden sand. Lots of wekas and pukekos wandering around. The first day we did a very short walk to Skinners Point up to the lookout, and got a great view of the area. Totaranui is part of the Abel Tasman National Park and you can access other bays in the park by booking a water-taxi, and being dropped off iat one bay and walk to another. Get picked up there by the taxi, and taken back to your accommodation provided you have pre-booked. I had read about the walk from Totaranui to Awaroa Lodge but as you had to cross an inlet you needed to go within two hours either side of low tide. The tides didn't fit in with our plans, as low tide was around 6am, which was a bit of an early start for us, then the next one was in the evening! I did however find another walk that was within my range (Not very long), it meant being dropped of by the water taxi at Onetahuti bay and walking along a track to Awaroa Lodge, only about an hours walk. However as we were picked up at Totaranui by the water-taxi at 11am and we weren't being picked up at Awaroa Lodge until 3pm the boat driver suggested we walk another 20 minutes and he would drop us off at Tonga Quarry. We had a very enjoyable time doing this walk, relatively easy, very easy if you are fit, about an hour of it was uphill.
Totaranui Beach
Water taxi
Totaranui from Skinners Point
Onetahuti Bay
View Abel Tasman National Park
Boardwalk start of track to Awaroa Lodge
Turnoff to Lodge
Awaroa Cove
People swimming Awaroa Lodge
Te Waikoropupū Springs
Silver Fern
The bubbling Springs
Such clear water Pupu Springs
Onetahuti Bay
Carved Stingray Awaroa Lodge
Track times/distance
I was happy when we started going down towards the beach at Awaroa. Tonga Quarry was an interesting little bay. In the early 1900's granite was being quarried from here, and the Nelson Cathedral steps are made of granite, as was the first Post Office in Wellington. Now there is nothing much at the quarry but some large slabs of granite, and a couple of information boards showing what was there in 1907.

It was only 20 minute walk to Onetahuti Bay, and the water here was incredible, the colours so vibrant, and so clear. You are allowed to camp here, there are flush toilets but that is about it. You can only camp for two nights. There was a young family camping there when we arrived. We actually stopped and had our lunch there, and were greeted by a very friendly weka. It was another hour or so walk to Awaroa Lodge which is actually a Cafe/accommodation Lodge, and it is very popular. A lot of weddings are held on the beach in (pre Covid times), and reception held at the Lodge. It was a lovely bush walk, not too hot, and not to rigorous, we saw some fantails flitting around, several wekas, and oyster-catchers down by the beach. We arrived at the Lodge about 1.45pm, and decided to have a coffee at a muffin at the Lodge. You could have ordered a meal, and/or had a wine or beer. There were a lot of people there, most of whom were waiting to be picked up by another of the water-taxi's at 2.30pm.

We wandered down to the beach and waited for our boat to arrive, it was on time at 3pm. There was us, another couple and two other girls who were all going to Totaranui. The driver did a bit of a scenic tour back, and showed us around some of the other bays close by. He also took us to the Awaroa Inlet, and boy am I glad the tides were wrong and we couldn't do the walk we had originally planned too. The inlet is at least a km across, and that is a long way to be wading through water, One of the couples we met on the boat when we were dropped off to Tonga Bay, said they had done this same walk from Awaroa Lodge to Totaranui the day before, and they were wading in knee deep water. They were also with a Guide, which I think would be the best way to do this walk. Spending a few hours in Abel Tasman National Park was a great way to spend a few hours, thoroughly enjoyed the day.

We spent two nights at Totaranui and then the weather started to pack up, so couldn't do too much without getting wet. We decided to go back to Pohara for the last two nights of our trip. The final thing we did while we were at Pohara was a drive to Te Waikoropupū Springs, or Pupu Springs as we used to call in years ago. This is another of those places we had visited years and years ago, so it was nice to go back and see if there were any changes. There was a new entrance way with information boards telling you all about these freshwater Springs, one of the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.

I think we covered most of Golden Bay in our two and a half weeks away, and we were lucky the weather was fine for most of the trip. Now we will have to re-book our trip to the East Coast of the North Island, but probaby not until the Covid numbers get under control. I know I have posted a lot of photos, mainly just because I can, and there is not much else happening on this Forum at the moment.

Melnq8 Nov 19th, 2021 04:21 AM

Beauty! Thanks for keeping the forum alive nelsonian!

northie Nov 22nd, 2021 01:37 PM

stunning photos Nelsonian

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