Destination: Golden Bay, South Island, July 27 – August 1, 2009

I’d hit my wall a few weeks ago.  It’s been a very dismal winter – lots of rain and cold, cold nights.   And I’d had enough.   It was time for a mid-winter getaway.    I needed to go somewhere sunny and relatively inexpensive.

I remembered that our friend Purple was minding a friends’ accommodation units in Golden Bay for the winter.  A quick email confirmed he was still there and that there was plenty of room for us.  Super.  Road trip here we come!

Golden Bay map

We left on a gorgeous sunny day and had a beautiful and easy seven hour drive through the mountains and Lewis Pass and then up and over Takaka Hill to arrive in the semi-tropical Golden Bay region.   The main town, consisting of approximately 4500 people, is Takaka.   We stayed just on the outskirts in a the popular summer resort area of Pohara at The Sandcastle  – a delightful 10 acre property with six self-contained little cottages, a spa and sauna, and complete with dog, chickens, and sheep.

Purple, Sally, Me, Bruce

We had four full days of relaxing, hiking, sightseeing, and just hanging out with our friends.     The weather was sunny and while not totally the tropical island holiday I was much in need of, it was much warmer than Christchurch (indicated by the fact that I did not have to wear my long johns every day!).

Pohara Beach - BrucePohar Beach - RocksPohara Beach - Birds

One day we drove out to Wainui Bay and did a nice long hike up to Gibbs Hill from which we had stellar views of the entire bay and Farewell Spit to one side and Abel Tasman Park and the Nelson region to the other.  We visited The Grove, an ancient Land of the Lost-like area with huge limestone boulders topped with Nikau palms and Rata trees which send their long tendril roots over the boulders and down to the ground.    We went to Te Waikoropupu Springs or PuPu Springs which are the largest fresh-water springs in NZ and apparently the clearest in the world.  About 14,000 litres of water a second is thrown up from a number of underground vents dotted around the springs.   And we paid a quick stop to The Naked Possum, to have a cuppa at the cafe and a quick browse in the Possum Shop — the couple who own and run The Naked Possum are dedicated to eradicating those nasty little possums who wreak havoc on the native bush.

The GroveThe Grove - Passage to Viewing PlatformThe Grove - Rata Tree

And otherwise, we just hung around Pohara at The Sandcastle and at the beach.  I got a good chance to be around the animals and fed the chooks and petted a sickly yet friendly ewe.   Sally the dog was my constant companion and followed me around the property as I snooped around and picked grapefruit and oranges off the heavily laden trees.

ChooksKathy & SallyEwe

This was our second trip to Golden Bay and I do love it quite a bit.  It reminds me of Kauai’s north shore with its large sweeping bay surrounded by mountains in the distance, lots of Nikau Palms, warm weather, and oodles of avocado, citrus, and kiwifruit trees.   People are very laid back and talk about being on Bay time – slow and relaxed.   It’s a community of alternatives – a tremendous amount of artists, musicians, and creative folks live there just like in Hanalei, Kauai.

And so it was time to make the drive back home.   Rest assured, it will not be another three years before I am there again!

Wainui Bay - Gibbs Hill