We were both awake bright and early, and Dangerous Kitchen (which we’d planned on breakfasting at, having perused their menu the night before) didn’t open until 9, so we decided to head over to Te Waikoropupū Springs (or just Pupu Springs, as they’re more commonly called if you want to avoid all those syllables). The springs are known for their incredibly clear water, which lets you see right to the bottom of the deep pools.
The water looks so inviting, but the springs are considered tapu (sacred) by local iwi, so you’re not allowed to even touch the water. Probably a good thing, really – imagine how quickly they’d be spoilt if they started being used as a swimming hole.
With the light low over the water, there were a few too many reflections to be able to see into it very clearly, but it did make for some very photogenic scenes (and best of all, no tourists around!).
There’s a short (and very beautiful) bush walk to get to the springs. I wasn’t so impressed with the beauty of the inhabitants, though (Lytteltonwitch liked him, but then she’s weird 🙂 ).
At least the rest of the bush made up for the odd creepy-crawly…
After breakfast, we decided to head first to Farewell Spit at the far end of the bay, then work our way back towards Takaka, stopping off at anything that looked interesting. At Farewell Spit we walked across farmland for half an hour or so to reach Fossil Point – and then realised we’d technically walked from one side of the island to the other (take that, all you Coast to Coast athletes!) and were now on the West Coast.
The beach looked very West Coast-y, too:
These guys were snoozing among the rocks at the end of the beach.
You can kind of spot which direction the wind blows from 🙂
One of the fossils that give Fossil Point its name. There are seashells embedded all through the cliff-face and in the rocks at its base.
Not a fossil, but still cool – the remains of a wasp nest clinging to the cliff.
Looking north along the Spit. Ok, so it’s actually just a front coming over, but it did look like there was a clear divide in the sky colour along the spit, with grey over the Coast and blue over Nelson 🙂
Seals weren’t the only wildlife on the beach – we discovered some mysterious footprints that we never managed to figure out the origin of. They looked a bit like a sheep’s hoofprints – which would make sense, given the farmland all around – but they started in the middle of the beach with no prints leading up to them, and then disappeared a few steps later. And they were a long way from the tideline (and relatively fresh), so it wasn’t like the other prints could have just been washed away. Of course, some might say that a cloven-hoofed creature that can materialise out of nowhere might be connected with the fact that I was travelling with a witch 😉 Or maybe they just have flying sheep in Golden Bay…
As we left Farewell Spit, the front caught up with us and it started to rain, but we were hopeful it wouldn’t last, so we headed inland to the Aorere Valley, aiming for the Naked Possum, a wildfoods restaurant that sounded like it might be an interesting experience. Which it was – although actually, just finding it was pretty interesting in itself. It took the definition of “middle of nowhere” to new heights, being at the end of a maze of dirt roads with minimal signage. We thought we were completely lost at one point, when we came to a junction with no indication on which way to go, but then we spotted a small sign way off down the road – having it actually at the junction would have made a lot more sense! (though from what the woman who served us at the restaurant said when we commented on how hard the place was to find, they kind of did that on purpose – it’s like a test: if you can’t find your way to the Naked Possum, then they don’t want you eating there). By the time we reached the restaurant it was pouring with rain, but luckily they had some inside tables. Despite the name, there was no possum on the menu (too much 1080 poisoning going on to risk it), but there were plenty of other interesting meats. I tried a tahr* steak, which turned out to have a flavour somewhere between goat and venison (kind of as you’d expect, really).
*Tahr are a kind of mountain goat native to the Himalayas which some bright spark decided to introduce to the Southern Alps, where they promptly became a pest, pretty much like every other animal that the early settlers introduced to New Zealand.
We’d planned on doing part of the Kaituna Track, which starts right beside the Naked Possum, but it was still raining when we finished our lunch, so instead we headed back to the main road. We stopped off briefly at the Langford Store, a tiny historic store that is half shop, half museum, and half art gallery (yes, I know that’s too many halves, but it was that kind of place). The groceries for sale on the shelves are mixed in among a display of old tins and boxes, and random items like two boxes full of tea cosies. Very strange place.
In Collingwood we stopped off at one of the items on our “must see” list – Rosy Glow Chocolates. A tiny wee shop with an incredible selection of handmade chocolates, but we tried to be reasonably restrained in our purchases (ok, so maybe not *that* restrained, but it was Easter after all – there has to be chocolate!). The rain had eased off a bit now that we were away from the hills, but it was still drizzling, so we only stopped briefly at the historic cemetery in Collingwood (for Lytteltonwitch to find a geocache) then headed back in the direction of clearer skies towards Takaka.
Our next stop was Labyrinth Rocks, a weird little place just outside Takaka. It’s a series of maze-like walkways a local man created/discovered among natural rock formations (the local limestone gets weathered into all sorts of weird and wonderful shapes around Takaka), to which he added all sorts of little sculptures and ornaments. When he died a few years ago, the Rocks were taken over by a trust, and they’re now freely open to the public. Over the years, people have added all sorts of extra decorations, mostly in the form of little plastic toys hidden among the rocks (but also other weird things, like the odd sheep skull). It makes for a fun game to see how many of the little hidden treasures you can find.
Of course Lytteltonwitch, who always travels with a pocket full of little plastic toys, had to add a few to the rocks, and created (among other things) a spider-infested cave:
I found a cat among her stash, so I made my own mark on the Labyrinth:
(These ones aren’t plastic – I found them growing at the base of a tree)
We were joined for most of our walk through the Labyrinth by a very inquisitive photo-bombing fantail. Fantails always like to follow you through the bush, because of the insects you stir up while you’re walking, but this one was particularly fascinated by me and my camera. Every time I lifted my camera to take a picture he’d fly towards me, and passed by close enough for me to hear his wingbeats several times. I’m sure he was trying to tease me – he’d pose beautifully on a branch or rock just inviting me to take his photo, then fly away just as I clicked the shutter, with his chattering sounding very much like laughter. As a result, I filled most of my memory card with pictures like this:
But I also got a few like this:
In the last of the daylight we visited the Grove, which is like a super-sized version of the Labyrinth Rocks (but without the plastic toys) – a huge outcropping of limestone with pathways running through cracks in the rock. The setting sun was lighting up the rocks in magical ways:
The view, looking back towards Takaka, from a lookout point part-way up the rock.
Watermelon by Marian Keyes – Te Waikoropupū Springs
The Wind off the Small Isles by Mary Stewartc – Fossil Point
The Lost Language of Cranes by David Leavitt – Naked Possum
Hotel Pastis by Peter Mayle – cafe in Collingwood
Dance of Death by Lincoln Preston – Collingwood historic cemetery
Liberty by Garrison Keillor – Labyrinth Rocks