It took longer than I expected to do what I had to do in Nelson.
I needed some work doing on the van; the heater didn’t work and the spare had to be couriered in. Then, since the gas had been messed with I needed a new ‘Gas Compliance Certificate’. I also needed some rust fixing under the Heems in order to pass the COF (same as MOT in England), so I had to spend some time waiting for that. It was like watching paint dry… actually, some of it WAS watching paint dry.
After that I could finally be on my way.
I was headed towards Golden Bay, but didn’t have time to get there in daylight, so I pulled into Kaiteriteri (take the ‘s’ off ‘sky’ then add ‘Terry’ ‘Terry’).
I’d been there once before, a very long time ago, and yes… it IS still gorgeous.
The campsite wasn’t unpleasant… it just had no atmosphere about it. It had everything, but it is built for flocks of families on their summer holidays, and at this time of year, with 414 of the 420 camping spaces vacant, the place just looked forgotten and abandoned.
Despite that the Kaiteriteri Beach Motor Camp is what it says it is, it’s a campsite on the beach front, and the café next to it, ‘the Shoreline Café’ is also what it claims to be. The Café, which has a deck overlooking the sea, served me twice; the first time because I wanted a coffee, the second time because it was so dammed nice sitting there looking out over the ocean.
This morning I got all cleaned up and on the road fairly early; I had a stop planned on the way from Kaiteriteri to Takaka. I remember that the road was pretty spectacular, a big climb to a saddle, then down onto the plain and to the sea.
From the top of the saddle I’d seen that there was a track up to the summit ridge which promised 360° views… and that seemed like somewhere I needed to go. It took an hour or so to get up there from the road, but it was absolutely fabulous, with views back down onto Tasman Bay, across to the Kahurangi Range and out to Golden Bay and Farewell spit.
Here’s a quick clip from up there.
I rolled on down into Takaka… it was simply breathtaking dropping down onto the plains. I hadn’t remember that part. The Kahurangi Range was huge on one side of the valley, all covered in bush. The other side was rough and craggy, but the detail of the rock is curved and fluted where the soft limestone has been dissolved by centuries of rainfall.
The valley floor was green, vivid green like you see in Ireland, and it contrasted with the autumn tints in the late afternoon sun.
Takaka itself? I fell in love with it immediately. It’s a small town, in England it would be considered a decent sized village. It’s provincial town with a showground, a hardware store, 2 banks, a school, a police station and a garage, but these days it’s clearly here as much for the tourists as the farmers.
I picked a coffee shop with seats in the sun. It was opposite the Golden Bay Museum. I’ll be going in there… it’s also known as the ‘Abel Tasman Museum’.
The sun was getting low. As I sat I checked out the local campsites… unsually I hadn’t actually picked one out in advance. I saw one just outside town, then a couple more on the way to Cape Farewell… so I got going.
Somehow I didn’t see the turning to the campsite close to town (it turned out I was already past it), and ended up at the one on the shore inside Golden Bay. I grimaced somewhat at the sign on the driveway, “Golden Bay Holiday Park”… but I didn’t need to. This place is an absolute gem.
No doubt it would have a different feel in summer, but now it is empty, and I have prime spot of the beach front. It’s a ‘can do’ place. Lot’s of campsites has signs alerting you to what you shouldn’t do, this one is the opposite. It tells you what you can do. The fish filleting station is well signposted, and the sign say, ‘please fillet your fish here’. By the fridges is a saying advising you to clearly label your stuff… next to it are sticky labels and the permanent markers.
I walked along the beach briefly, and sat to watch the seals taking in the last warmth of the day. I saw a couple of fire pits and on my way back to the van I noticed a sign telling me about fires. There was no problem lighting a fire on the beach, you just had to let the local rural fire officer know… the sign gave his name and mobile number.
After dark I went back to the beach and looked across the bay. There were nearly no lights and I suddenly realised what It was like for the Maori to see two big ships, with lights, sitting there in the middle of the bay.
In the morning I’m off to the west coast, a place called Anatoki… it’s another ‘end of the road’ place. I doubt there will be coverage, but I may only visit and then come back here. We’ll see.