Golden Bay and the World's Purist Water
Trip Start Dec 16, 2009
23Trip End Ongoing
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Where I stayed
I had no transportation to get there, and I though maybe I'd catch a bus, but as I was having my morning coffee outside in the yard of my accommodation, I overheard a girl say she was driving to Nelson.
She had pitched a tent on the lawn and was packing up, and before she left for good, I asked if I could hitch a ride and split the cost of petrol (no one here calls it gas). She said that she'd like the company because it was a very long drive. With that, I was set
Now, I really must qualify "long drive." New Zealand is small. Very small. So people aren't used to driving very long distances like in the states, where I would sometimes hop in my car with the dog and drive to San Francisco from LA for a weekend. To me, that's short trip. Here, that would be nearly unheard of. Anything over an hour is considered far, and Nelson was an hour and a half from Blenheim.
The girl, whose name I have forgotten was very nice, very large, and her car was very small. Being a backpacker herself, she had been camping in the back yard of the accommodation (cheaper than staying inside), and had done so for several days. Without showering.
It was a really hot morning, and about fifteen minutes into the trip, I was beginning to regret not catching a bus. So I rolled down the windows to get some fresh air. Between big gulps of air out the window, we had some nice conversation.
After about forty-five minutes, we came to a small gorge where she decided to stop to "break up the drive." This made the trip with my odiferous companion worth it
We watched people jumping off the rocks into the crystal-clear water. So I decided to follow suit. I threw my shirt off and leapt from a less than comforting height and splashed into the chilly water. I did this several times, did some swimming to keep warm, and basically frolicked like a seal for a good fifteen minutes before my limbs began to numb from the cold.
I got out, and having no towel to dry myself, just put my shirt back on my wet body, the cotton sticking to me like, well, a wet shirt.
As I approached my portly friend, I noticed a swarm of little black sandflies (worse than mosquitoes) buzzing around her ankles.
"I don't know what's with all the sand flies," she bemoaned while swatting at them. "It's like, they're just attacking me! Why on earth...?"
"I have the same problem," I lied, restraining myself from telling her it was because she hadn't showered in who-knows-how-long
Forty-five minutes later, she dropped me off in Nelson. After checking into my room, I walked around and saw that "amazing" Nelson was a hole. So I got something to eat and went to bed early.
The next morning, I picked up my car and headed toward Golden Bay, near the north-western tip of the South Island.
I was on a tight schedule because I only had four weeks to spend on the South Island, having to return to Auckland for a big photo gig, so I passed by Abel Tasman national park thinking I'd go some time when I could just spend a week to camp.
It was several hours to Golden Bay, and when I got there, I was underwhelmed. Sure, the beach is a sparkley gold color, but there is nothing else there.
I was told by a very nice couple in Blenheim that I should definitely check out Takaka, a small hippie town just to the north. It was supposed to be a quaint bohemian little village with arts and crafts and hippies and zen vibes
Takaka is one short street with a couple of cafés. It's not exactly bohemian, it's where people go to drop out of society.
I did find a little gem called the Kiwiana Backpackers. The accommodation was absolutely fantastic. The owner had converted a beautiful house into an accommodation, and it was one of the best I've stayed in. The floors were a stunning green polished concrete, there was a jacuzzi and barbecues, and the garage was converted into a lounge with billiards and games and comfy sofas.
But it was full. Except that I had my own tent, and like my stinky friend, I pitched it on the lawn. Unlike my friend, I showered the next morning.
That night, I had some wine while soaking in the jacuzzi.
When I awoke the next day, I checked out early and got on the road. I really wanted to start down the West Coast of the South Island, because that's what the South Island is all about.
I did take a detour to see Waikoropupu Springs, which was really cool. The underground spring water juts up into a reservoir. And it is the purest water in the world. It is untouched by man and womankind. It is sacred, protected water, that is illegal to touch.
As I walked the long, wooded path to the overlook, I thought, "Man, I'd like to drink that."
Although the beach was lovely and the spring was moderately interesting, I could have spent the whole day before just going south. But the Kiwiana was so great, it was worth it.