FiNZ 50 – Golden Bay

Easter is the “Kiwi Thanksgiving” — the one 4 day weekend of the year that everyone travels somewhere. As expats, utilizing this mandatory 4 day break for a longer drive was a MUST. We hadn’t been to the far north (Golden Bay) or south (Invercargill) of the south island yet. We decided between the two we’d rather see Golden Bay – sunnier and warmer.

00

It’s a longer drive than it looks with the windy roads through Lewis Pass and then the windiest road I’ve been on thus far from Motueka to Takaka (where we stayed in Golden Bay). We left around 10am Friday with the rest of Christchurch and hit some “major” south island traffic for the next couple hours. I’m fairly sure most of Canterbury decided to go north with us for Easter weekend. Luckily after passing the first resort town, Hamner Springs, we were up to 100 km/hr again. We eventually arrived to our “Tiny Abode“, cooked dinner, and found the beautiful beach at the end of the neighborhood road.

00a

A literal golden bay

Saturday we were off to explore the east side of Golden Bay. Keith’s colleague told him to check out two natural limestone wonders. The Labyrinth is a local plot of land with a giant natural maze of rocks. The Grove was an even better area of huge palms growing on top of limestone boulders. It reminded me a lot of my field trips to purgatory chasm in elementary school!

01

The Labyrinth (top) & The Grove (bottom)

02

more at The Grove

02aAfter a nice coffee break we were off to the Rawhiti Caves. Our trusty NZ Frenzy book, per usual, did not fail. After a steep 45 minute climb, we reached the most interesting cave I’ve seen. Stalactites everywhere! It always amazes us how people come across these wonders in the middle of nowhere. Rawhiti caves were a tourist attraction starting almost 100 years ago when a local farmer would bring groups of visitors up the hill and then make tea for them at the mouth of the cave.

03

Rawhiti Cave

Later that afternoon we drove all the way to Wainui Bay–the north side of the Abel Tasman Coast Track (aka the side of the track that no one ever gets too). For being the most popular Great Walk, the boat taxis do end at a certain point. This leaves the north several kilometers of the track void of the hundreds of tourists. Keith went for a run to the first hut, while I walked up to the look out point and took some photos along the way.

03a

Wainui Bay

04

Abel Tasman Coastal Track trekking & Wainui Bay running

On Easter my coworker and his girlfriend met us for brunch and a hike up to the northern hook of Golden Bay, called Farewell Spit.

04a

Farewell Spit (bay side)

The walk up the bay/east side was pretty uneventful, but as soon as we crossed over to the other side of the “hook,” gigantic sand dunes appeared with a beautiful, empty, sandy beach. It was an environment I’ve never really seen before – incredible!

05

Sand dune surfing

06

Farewell Spit (west side)

That night we headed to the neighborhood beach again to watch the full moon rise – gorgeous.

07

Full Moon Rising

Since it was really on our bucket list to hike the Heaphy track (if only for a few hours), we woke up at 5am the next morning and got out the door by 6 to get to the track end by 7am. Again Keith used it as a 3 hour training run while I hiked for 3 hours.

08

Heaphy Track token shot

Per usual we were alone on the track. I made some friends with the birds who were having a field day flocking around me, very Cinderella -esque. apparently, the fantails (birds) will flock around people and animals because that’s where the flies (food) go.

10

09Albeit gloomy, the Heaphy Track was a beautiful walk through the dense rainforest-like woods. We were then off to Farewell Spit area again to see Wharariki beach before we left.

The “moderate walk” to the beach involved several peacock and sheep encounters through rolling hobbit-like hills.

11

Animals along the Hilltop Walk

Once over the final sand dune we realized just how beautiful the beach was. This beach wasn’t simply a “stop and take a quick photo beach.” Cursing the fact that we had a long drive home awaiting us, Keith still jumped in the ocean and we both sat and enjoyed the beautiful scenery for a moment.

12

Wharariki Beach Views

13We had a quick lunch at the locally famous Mussel Inn and then enjoyed a nice long drive home.

A mere 3 weekends left! Until next week…

 

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