Aaah Golden Bay. If you read the Week 1 post, you’d know we were escaping the rain around Malborough Sounds. We decided to head West to escape it. But we didn’t. We’ve hardly been online thus the lack of updates, and in some ways that’s been great. Spending around 10 days in the Golden Bay area was like a holiday from our holiday, and despite the few days of rain, the weather lived up to its reputation. Spending months in Wellington and watching the weather reports I never realised rain actually existed in the area. It’s a myth, although everyone kept telling us it was the first in 6 months.
We started in Kaiteriteri, which is a big base for the Abel Tasman and kayaking around the Abel Tasman National Park. It was an interesting time to visit as we saw the build up of the typical Kiwi Christmas break as 4x4s, boats, caravans and annual neighbours slowly filled up each block, often booked in for the same block as last year. Caravans and motorhomes stretched from bleeding edge technology to traditional and much loved 70’s caravans – a Kiwi classic. A couple of days of swimming, and trying the trails at the Kaiteriteri mountain bike park was a great way to kick back and relax. Kayaking was considered, but at $180+ per day it was bodyswerved.
From ‘teriteri’ it was up and over the Takaka Hill to the climbing and ‘hippy’ mecca of Takaka to have a looked into the Paynes Ford climbing area before heading up towards Farewell Spit to bring in xmas. We based ourselves at Collingwood. Xmas eve was spent walking for around 5 hours on and around the ‘spit’ – a long sandbank stretching out from the mainland, and surrounding beaches.
Collingwood was a really quiet place so despite hardly anyone around the campsite we decided we’d just make it a mix of a traditional UK and Kiwi xmas, or as much as we could – a good few beers, with a couple of stints at the BBQ, and a spot of fishing out the back of the camping site. Despite recent Kawahi catches, I just succeeded yet again in catching my lure in the rocks, and having to snip it off. From here we went down to the west coast for a drive on Boxing Day which wasn’t a good year end for some German tourists…. on the way back we were flagged down and ended up taking 3 girls to Takaka after their car slid off the gravel road and ended up in a ditch 15m below. They were so lucky to walk away pretty much unscathed. Be careful on those gravel roads and drive at a safe speed – expect traffic coming round those corners!
A few years ago I bombed through Takaka which was probably just as well at the time – unless you can spend a few days in the area it’s harder to pick up on the chilled vibe around. Some “locals” claimed it was something in the minerals, and some just seemed to move here and never moved on, but it was a very relaxed place. Takaka is full of colourful people, colourful clothes, nice shops full of both local artists, and imported good from Nepal and Asia. It has an eclectic weekend market (probably made more electic since our visit was on 1st January!), and some great cafes full of organic and healthy choices. For a nice modern bar, check out Roots Bar and it’s superbly friendly owner, and the oh-so-hard-to-leave outdoor log fire.
We managed a few days of climbing in Pohara just 7km from Takaka – much more chilled out than Paynes Ford, far less people and great sea views as well. Last year was finished in style – some climbing, followed by kite flying on the beach then a swim in the sea, retiring to a local Inn just outside Takaka to take in the New Year. The Riverside Inn was about the only place left with a legitimate space for the van. Despite hoping to spent New Year’s Eve in Roots Bar we had little choice but to spend it here and check out some of the local characters, of which there were plenty.
The New Year was started by very reluctantly leaving the Golden Bay area. The weather, and maybe our lack of wet weather motivation, had prevented us doing a lot of what we had hoped. About 7 days in all was lost to rain. We left the area without doing an overnight tramp, without biking the Rameka track, and doing far less climbing than I hoped.
There is so much to do in the Golden Bay and Nelson areas that we reckoned we could leave in two months and still feel cheated, so it was time to move on, knowing that if we settled back in Wellington it was one of the closest, and easiest places to get to on the South Island. To the West Coast via Nelson Lakes it was….