Without a doubt, the drive from Queenstown to Te Anau was the most boring drive we have done the entire trip to date, North Island included. I can only assume the road will earn its designated name ‘the Scenic Route’ from here to Milford. However just after the end of Lake Wakatipu in the Kingston area(the last nice views),Lake Wakatipu near Kingston

 

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we came flying around a corner and slammed the brakes……to allow for a sheep herding! Easily a thousand sheep being shepherded by sheep farmers in lamb’s shawls and wigs and sheep herding dogs.

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Actually had to manoeuvre the car around the sheep for about 3 km at about 10km/hr! It was the coolest thing, never have we experienced something like this before.

Twenty nine days in a row with no rain, temps between 72 and 82F, mostly sunny.

Milford cruise tomorrow and some hiking out there….we have been getting in between 5km to 20km hikes daily, it helps keep the beer belly at bay!

Sorry about my blog site not co-operating plus internet sucks big time in NZ, what do they use down here, Commodore 64’s ?? But I am on Facebook if you are interested, think we have taken some nice photos.

Cheers

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One Last Farewell…..

February 5, 2014

One last farewell to Golden Bay but this time to Wharariki Beach early in the morning….

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We take the same road that John took us with Farewell Spit Tours but at the fork in the dirt road, we go left about 1 km, park the car and take a nice grassy trail…..

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Whairariki beach trail

 

 

Whaikarariki Beach path

 

a stand of 30ft high carnuba trees….

carnuba grove Whaiariki

 

 

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then sandy trail…..

Whairariki beach

 

 

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to the water’s edge…

 

Wharariki beach

 

 

Wharariki beach

 

 

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Wharariki beach

Because we have a long ride later today to our next destination we are here around 8am again at low tide. This beach is supposed to be viewed a high tide when the water surrounds the islands, but we found it to be tremendous the way it was, howling wind and all.

Whairariki beach

 

 

Wharariki beach

We were told there were baby seals in the area and we were not disappointed…..

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watching them splash around in the little pools in the rocks,

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seals

With that done…..

Wharariki beach

back in the car back to Takaka, then up and down the Takaka Mountain to Motueka, then turning right and heading to Westport, for the start of west coast ride.

Collingwood, a hamlet of 300 full time residents on the far northwestern edge of Golden Bay and close to Cape Farewell and the Cape Farewell sand spit, an UNESCO recognized area.

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From Collingwood we took a 6 1/2 hour bus tour onto the Cape Farewell Spit, one of only 2 in the world of this magnitude(the other in Poland).  The only way one can get on the Spit is through one of 2 tour companies because of its fragile and protected  situation.  We are going with Farewell Spit Ecotours….

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but before we jump on, we catch a bite at the Courthouse Cafe…..

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The tour starts at 3pm so that the tide is out and we can ride on the sand. First stop after crossing the Aorere River……

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is just past the hamlet of Puponga……

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with a view back across Golden Bay to Collingwood…..

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The road here turns to gravel, 5km later there is a fork in the road, right to Cape Farewell or left to Wharariki Beach. We are going to the Cape so right we go…. and after a few minutes see this, the Hole in the Rock….

Cape Farewell Hole in the Rock

 

a pretty huge rock face…

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and down in the cave like opening above, we see some fur seals!…

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A view looking the other way …..

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and up to Cape Farewell lighthouse…..At Cape Farewell  you stand at the northern most tip of the South Island. We were also standing at that point, south of Wellington on the North Island!…..

lighthouse Cape Farewell

 

Now we will descend back down to the water as the tide is now low enough to allow us on to the Spit. It is at this point that no other vehicles except our bus have permission to enter, and walking is only allowed for another kilometre. We start on the south side of the Spit, then cross over to the north side. Once there, John our driver and tour guide turns west to get up close to the last rocky part of land…..

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pea mussels on the rocks at low tide….

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Back in the bus and we now head north and east on to the Spit. From the air at low tide the Spit looks like a pelican’s bill but at high tide it looks like a kiwi’s beak. And now the fun begins. It is like we have been transported to a desert in the Middle East…..

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This Farewell Spit is over 25 km long complete with sand dunes and about 60 varieties of migratory birds, some migrating over 27,000km from Siberia, the Yukon and down the west coast of North America….

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and domestic ones…..

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and there is a Gannet colony on the Spit, now 3000 pairs alive where 25 yr ago there were only 100 pairs.

And more fur seals……

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As the sun starts going down and the wind picks up,  it makes the sand take on a different look…

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Where does the sand come from? From the mountains of the Southern Alps on the west side of the South Island as well as the lands around Akaroa and Christchurch on the eastern side of the South Island, driven by wind and ocean currents and they meet at the Cape. Geologists now know that 10,000 tons of sand are deposited every day, every year for the last 3000 years. They can even analyze the sand to tell us what side of the South Island the sand has come from.

We have been out on the Spit for about 4 1/2 hours and we make a tea and muffin break at the Farewell Spit lighthouse…..

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served up by our driver/guide/historian/geographer John…..

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Back on bus for the ride back to Collingwood by about 9:45pm.

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whale spotted…..

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Who would have thought a ride on a giant sand dune for 6 1/2 hours would be so unbelievably fascinating? The massive size, the unique landscape, the changing colours, the wildlife, the history and the rocks was incredible.

And to think that one hour drive east and you can walk in subtropical forest and gigantic boulders and here is like the Arabian desert!

What a unbelievable country!

Before heading over to Collingwood we checked into the i-Site information office in Takaka and ask the woman at the counter what else we can see and do before leaving the area. She says, “well do you like hiking?” We say yes. She says, ” Do you really like tough hiking?”, now I figure we have a challenge, so I say we love tough hiking.  So she says, “well then you have to go see the Rawhiti Caves, it is a 1 hour hike in, the first 10 minutes easy, the last 50 minutes a tough climb up to this huge cave with a giant cathedral and stalagtites and stalagmites projecting right out of the cave”. OK we are in, so we jump in the car and get to the car park and get started.

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As she said the first 5 minutes were fairly easy…….

Rawhiti Caves start

 

 

Follow the orange markers!

then the next 50 were a challenge requiring both hands and feet to climb up a steep  trail over and around tree trunks, tree roots and rocks……

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Rawhiti Caves

 

 

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But we make it to Rawhiti and it was worth the climb!…..

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Next up is a stop at Waikoropupu  Springs, a natural fresh clear water spring that bubbles up to the surface, one of the largest in the world. It allows for some great reflections of the rocks and stones below the surface….

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Springs

 

 

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And now to Collingwood, 20 minutes away.

Golden Bay at Collingwood

We check into our B&B which was tucked into the side of the hill overlooking the hamlet of Collingwood where we have a nice view from our private deck in the trees…

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and a outdoor tub if we choose to bathe under the stars….

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A little lunch and we are ready to go check out Cape Farewell..

Takaka, proof that hippies still live and strive!  This is the town one descends into after tacking the steep, winding Takaka ‘Hill’. Lots of colour, lots of art, lots of fun….and great coffee!

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Takaka

 

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Hey man, has anybody seen Cheech and Chong man???

A Fine Pohara Morning….

February 4, 2014

After a fantastic sleep at the Sans Souci, morning broke crystal clear and dead calm. Here is a look at Pohara…..

Pohara marina

 

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the road through the rock……

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Abel Tasman Memorial and Lookout ( fyi, he was the first European to set foot on New Zealand, he named it, and it was well before Capt. Cook landed here)

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IMG_6485Pohara beach at low tide from Abel Tasman memorial lookout

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Just a Word About Sans Souci Inn

The Sans Souci Inn in Pohara is a unique inn to stay at. A Swiss couple, Reti and Vera moved to New Zealand in 1991 with the idea of buying property and building an inn that was as close to perfectly environmental as possible. They first looked at land in Queen Charlotte Sound but chose Pohara due to less difficulty in acquiring and transporting building materials.
They purchased an empty lot near(but not on) the beach and built everything themselves, I mean everything! The buildings are adobe villas made of straw and mortar, the roofs are grass on wood rafters, the floors and countertops polished concrete, even the quarry tile in the bathrooms and patios they made themselves. The toilets in the bathrooms are composting, no flushing of water, instead 2 scoops of compost tossed in after your duty is done, that and a underground fan breaks things down with no hint of odour. We had a 2 bedroom villa with private bath but the rest of the inn has a large communal washroom with showers on the perimeter and a giant circular multi-sink. There is a main dining room and lounge and the master kitchen can be used by guests(we had our own). The property was barren at the time of purchase, now it is a beautiful tropical garden! The Inn was completed in 1994, 20 years ago.
It was an amazing place to stay, just wish we could have spent more time there.

 

Thanks to our friends Dale and Frank for recommending it!

Hopefully the photos will show how nice it was…….

IMG_6459the dining room, main kitchen and lounge

 

IMG_6456the main kitchen

 

IMG_6457the dining room

 

IMG_6462our villa, with grapes growing on our pergola

 

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our living room and bedroom….

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our kitchen(they must have thought they were building this area for when Emeril might come for a visit!)

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our bath and toilet….notice the bucket of compost!….

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second bedroom

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and the communal bathroom for the rooms without bath…..

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