Takaka & Golden Bay

The drive to Takaka took most of the day – a good 8 hours, with stops. I ended up stopping at a waterfall that I can’t remember the name of, Nelson Lakes National Park for a quick walk, and Te Waikoropupu springs.

To get to the springs I had to drive through Takaka. I figured that it was the time of day where least people would be there, so it’d be easier to get a park. Google Maps did throw me off guard, as the springs are shortened to ‘Pupu Springs. When I heard “Head left onto poo poo springs…” I did laugh more than I probably should have.

Te Waikoropupu is the largest freshwater springs in New Zealand. It contains some of the clearest water recorded in the world, and is a place of great significance to the Maori people. The picture doesn’t do justice as to how clear the water actually is.

For my first whole day in Takaka I drove up to Cape Farewell. You can’t walk past 4km onto the spit, unless you are with an organised tour. I had a bit of a walk on there, then drove up to Wharaiki Beach.

There’s been very few times where I’ve gone for a walk in flip flops and been really glad that I did. This was one of those walks. It’s a bit of a walk onto the beach, and then it got really, really windy once on the beach. It’s one of the featured wallpapers on Windows 10 computers and the most northern point of the South Island.

Afterwards, I went back to Takaka, stopping off at the Labrinth Rocks. It’s a bit of a hard one to explain – it’s a maze of rocks, with toys scattered around it. I had the Pikachu toy that I won on a claw machine in Tokyo on me, so it made some new friends.

On the final day there I headed off to Wainui Falls – the walking track was quite short, around 20 minutes. After, I went to Rawhiti caves. The road there only allowed one car to go in either direction, so it did put my reversing skills to the test.

The walk to the top certainly was not the easiest, but I was really surprised by the caves – I was expecting a small area, but these were huge. I didn’t take my camera camera with me, just my phone camera, but better pictures can be found with a google search :).

I left Takaka early in the morning to go to Nelson, via kayaking in the Abel Tasman National Park.

Hanmer Springs

After Kaikoura I went to Hanmer Springs. It only took a couple of hours to drive there – I was expecting a good few hours at least.

As I arrived around midday, I was expecting the thermal pools to be busy as. Instead, I went for a coffee, passing the springs, which confirmed my assumptions. I checked into the hostel and then walked up Conical Hill – the view from the top was pretty sweet.

Afterwards I went for a cheeky beer, and then to the pools – a great spot to chill for a couple of days. I very quickly found the pools that children were not allowed in which was great.

For New Years, there was literally nothing on apart from a couple of pubs being open for the countdown. There were people in the hostel going to bed at 10, so not really anything worth doing. I had a quiet night in, and went to bed at 12.10.

I started the new year at a petting farm. I was trying to find a waterfall, but the GPS was giving me directions after I had passed the turnings. I’ve been to numerous waterfalls including Victoria Falls and Niagara, so I thought I could live without seeing it.

Instead, I petted some llamas – amongst elephants and sloths, they’re some of my favourite animals. One of the llamas was a shit and spat at me whilst I was feeding them. At least the year can only go up from there. I’ve been asked if I spat back at it by quite a few people, but I was a bit too startled to think of that.

Besides going to the springs and petting cute animals, I didn’t do much in Hanmer Springs. Afterwards, I moved on to Takaka, Golden Bay.

Kaikoura

During the end of autumn and winter I didn’t really get up to much. I’ve stayed in Wellington, and haven’t done much apart from work, yoga, and going to the pub. The highlights have been doing the Paekakariki Escarpment Tracks – one of the most reputable walking tracks near the city. I finished a 40 day yoga challenge – did something like 28 classes in that time – it’s nice to finish something that isn’t a packet of biscuits every now and then.

I had some time off over Christmas – supposed to be two weeks off, but I managed to score almost three. The last place I visited in the South Island was Kaikoura for just a day which was not enough. So I took the ferry over, drove for a couple of hours and had dinner on the beach.

Whilst on the ferry, I had to make a phone call to the car rental company and confirm that I was making my way over. The response was “we don’t have a booking for you,” so spent a good hour or so sorting that out. I was hoping that due to the faffing around, I would get a nice car (preferably a ferrari) but instead got a Mazda that had definitely seen better days.

I wanted to come down to Kaikoura most to go whale watching. Last summer I’d booked up to go, but the trip was cancelled. This one went ahead with a high sea-sickness warning, and I’m so glad I bought some tablets. The boat was kind of like being at work the day after a staff party – no one felt particularly great, and a few people were ill.

The whale watching was great – we saw three sperm whales, quite a few albatross and a shark. You can’t really see a huge amount of the whales from the boat; you can see when they’re at the surface, and their tail when they go back down under.

After getting off the boat I went for a bite to eat, then decided to go to the seal colony. The area is so nice with a couple of different walks – nothing is fenced off, so you can walk in the same area as the seals. It’s recommended that you keep 10 metres away from seals (I used the zoom on my camera), but there were quite a few people who didn’t adhere to that advice.

The following day I got up early and drove to Mt Fyffe, with the intent to go hiking. I got about 20 minutes in and was just not feeling it. A further five minutes later I thought sod it, and went back to the hostel.

I was in the car deciding what to do with my day. With a quick Google search, I saw that I could go watch some dolphins and got the last spot on the trip. It was so much better than hiking would’ve been, and ended up seeing heaps of dolphins.

Overall, Kaikoura was great. I feel as though I’ve done pretty much everything there that I would like to do. Moving on, I drove to Hanmer Springs.