All eyes turned to Christchurch last week after the horrific attacks on Muslims at prayer. Before this peaceful country was touched by such human darkness we were blithely exploring the north side of the South Island, enjoying what I would be tempted to call paradise.
We woke up in Arthur’s Pass on Sunday, March 3rd and took a brief “nature walk” before getting into the car for an all-day slog to the northern coast of the south island. My goal was Takaka, which I had heard was a hippie hamlet with just about every form of awesome activity you could ask for…including climbing. Takaka is on Golden Bay, which I’m seriously beginning to think is actually paradise. After driving through the dry, endless feeling apple orchards and hops field leading to Nelson, we turned north and went over a giant, windy hill before we dropped into Golden Bay at the Golden hour. Stunning.
We stayed at a little eco-cottage in Onekaka with an outdoor shower and everything, enjoyed Manuka brewed beer, and listened to the bird do their thing. The next day we took a hike out near the Farewell Spit to Warariki beach, which was truly magical. Sea caves and baby fur seals is all I’ll say.
We said a sad goodbye to the hippie hamlet and headed over to Marlborough sounds, which I had heard a lot about from my friends in Arrowtown. We stayed in a little “bach” (pronounced batch), which is another way of saying a simple, small house. The bach was perched on a hilleside overlooking the extremely tidal part of Marlborough sounds. We took a drive out to the Queen Charlotte track from our house and I remembered how long it feels to walk in the woods for 12 kms. The water of the sounds was a beautiful South Pacific turquoise, and we did a little swimming after watching the Outward Bounds folks practice flipping in their kayaks. We also checked out Picton, where we would be taking the giant ferry from the south island to the north.
The drive to Christchurch from Marlborough was another slog, but we needed to get down their to return the rental car and get our flights to Melbourne. That’s right, we took a side trip to Australia. To people live in NZ, I imagine that this should hardly be considered a “side trip” but when you live in the U.S., you’ve come far enough already that another 3.5 hours in a plane seems like nothing.
More on Oz soon.