day twenty-six: october 25, 2015: abel tasman north (anapai beach) + riwaka resurgence + waikoropupu springs + rawhiti cave

With the next two days forecasted to be sunny before another storm moved in, we wanted to make the most of our time. We woke up early and visited Riwaka Springs in the morning, which is actually more of a resurgence of the Riwaka River. Later in the afternoon we also visited Waikoropupu Springs, considered one of the largest freshwater springs in Australasia. The Maori consider these springs as sacred spots since freshwater brings with it life. 


After the visits to the springs we drove along another long, windy dirt road to get to the north end of the Abel Tasman track at Totoranui. We had read in our guidebook that far less people make it to that end of the Abel Tasman track. The guidebook was definitely right. We decided to do a short hike up a short headlands loop ending in Anapai Beach for a lunch break. To start the track, we had to cross an estuary. Thankfully, it was approaching low tide and we were able to cross with minimal stream jumping.

Later that afternoon, Jonathan squeezed in a hike to Rawhiti Cave, which was a short, but steep climb up a ravine. The cave was pretty impressive with some massive stalactites right at the entrance to the cave. In all, there must have been over a million stalactites visible from the small viewing platform just inside the immense cave.

Late in the afternoon we headed north to Puponga to a small freedom camp site right on the beach. We were treated to another great New Zealand sunset.

day twenty-seven: october 26, 2015: knuckle hill track + paturau beach + wharariki beach

We started the day off with a hike on the Knuckle Hill Track. In total, it was a 10km hike and of course, I wasn't too excited that the first 4km was slightly uphill and then the last 1km was a steeper ascent to the top. with every hike, it was definitely worth it once we got to the top. There were panoramic views of the bay and surrounding areas. Not too long after we got to the top, another hiker arrived and we quickly found out she was another native Californian, Lee from Santa Barbara,  who lives in New Zealand part-time. We talked endlessly for about twenty minutes and then the wind picked up and we all headed back down. She told us that she was in the process of building a home nearby and invited us over for a cup of tea, while we were in the area. We took her up on the offer!

The next two stops we made were best at low-tide and they weren't quite near each other but we were able to make both of them! Our first stop was Paturau Beach, where we were able to walk to tide-pool shelves, varying limestone formations, mermaid pools, etc.

Then, we drove about an hour to Wharariki Beach, which promises seal pups playing in pools at low-tide. We had to walk through a bit of farmland, a little forest, and then sand dunes that opened up to the beach. We walked up to one of the rock formations and caught three seal pups, just playing and swimming around in their own private pool. It was pretty cool to just watch them, glide through the water with each other, solo...come up on the rock, then back into the water. I never really realized how graceful they were. I guess, I just think of those big seals at the pier, that just lay in the sun and bark a lot.

Leaving Wharariki Beach it was extremely windy. Usually high wind is pretty bothersome, especially when sand is involved. I hurried ahead to get out of the beach area amongst the trees, but Jonathan lingered behind. He said watching the wind whip thru the grass and along the sand was something he enjoyed.

Just past the sand, the trees, and eventually sheep, start. And then, suddenly, you're walking thru this almost storybook setting. Pretty amazing how the landscape can change so suddenly.

Last stop of the day, the northern-most point of the South Island, Cape Farewell.

On Lee's recommendation, we decided to stop by the Mussel Inn for dinner and a drink. The pub had an awesome vibe. Sorry, didn't take any photos, you'll just have to check it out yourself!

day twenty-eight: october 27, 2015: lee + nelson

We had a bit of a slow start this morning. Lee gave us some recommendations of what we could do before tea at her house. But instead, we decided to sleep in a bit, especially since it was a little gloomy out. 

We headed over to Lee's house at 10:30am for tea and we didn't end up leaving until 4:30pm! We were all really surprised at how much time flew and felt like there was still so much more to talk about. 

We headed over the hill, leaving the awesome Golden Bay in our rear view, toward Nelson. We had a bite to eat at a fancy Thai restaurant and took in a movie, Black Mass, before finding a carpark to sleep in for the night.

day twenty-nine: october 28, 2015: nelson

It's another rainy day here in New Zealand. So, I think you can guess where we are -- the public library in Nelson. :) Then we're off to Cable Bay and the Queen Charlotte Sound region.