...way too much.
02.11.2010 - 10.11.2010 22 °C
From Jackett Island we head further north-west towards Reg Turner's luxurious B&B, Song of the Tui, outside of Collingwood. Along the way, a short hike catches our attention through a silver beech forest and past marble outcrops to Hardwood's Hole. The gaping hole is NZ's deepest vertical shaft at 400 m deep and 70 m wide, that's a lot of hole. The hole was formed from a former acidic stream which gradually dissolved fissures in the underlying marble. The hole was enlarged by collapse as its sides were undercut by the impressive waterfall that must once have plunged down it.
Driving on, we grunt our way up and over the Takaka Hill which supports some amazing coastal views. We enter Takaka and Julie spots a few places to satisfy her womanly need to shop. She finds an artist making all sorts of neat “New Zealand” art from old useless bits and pieces. We end up buying an old rusty table saw blade that had been transformed into a Kiwi bird with the help of a plasma cutter. Very eco-shiek. We also stop at Wholemeal cafe, a funky cafe/art gallery/restaurant. Takaka is a very laid back to near-horizontal town with rootsy artists. Creativity is displayed everywhere including the local park, artist murals on outdoor walls, and fabulous fountains. So far this is Julie's favourite town in NZ.
Our final stop before reaching Reg's place is the Te Waikoropupu Springs, the largest freshwater springs in Australasia pumping out 14 000 litres a second. They also have the distinction of being the clearest water on earth. The only other natural water that is clearer can be found in frozen antarctic glaciers. The water is unbelievably clear, it was as if you were looking into an aquarium but it is a freshwater pond. The surface of the pond bubbles in places as the quartz sands are tossed up about half a meter by the up-welling of subterranean water from the vent, giving it the name 'Dancing Sands Spring'.
The Te Waikoropupu Springs, also known as Pupu Springs, are a treasure and sacred place for Maori. In Maori traditions the springs are the purest form of water which is the spiritual and the physical source of life. They provide water for healing and in the past were a place of ceremonial blessings at times of birth and death and in the leaving/returning of travellers. Touching the water and swimming in the water is restricted in order to protect it.
From the springs we head to Reg's, driving up his long winding drive to the top of a hill providing views up the valley reaching into Kahurangi National Park and down the valley which meets the ocean. We arrive just in time to eat a wonderful dinner of roast chicken and potatoes, lovely! Reg shows us to our accommodations for the next 10 days, a separate cabin with bathroom and kitchenette that is spotless. Reg is a wonderful, energetic, jolly, old man that has run many different lodges around NZ. He gives us the grand tour and is truly proud of previous wwoofers' involvement in his well landscaped property. Our first day of work consists of prepping soil for seeding by sieving it, adding compost, and then planting vegetable seeds inside his tire gardens.
We put extra hours in to be able to take the next day off to explore the Farewell Spit area. The spit is formed by the erosion of cliffs in the Southern Alps which is washed into the Tasman Sea via the rivers. The ocean currents then carry the finest sediments north, depositing them on the spit. Million of cubic meters of sand are added to the spit each year. It would be a wonderful spot on a hot summer day, with endless beach on the north side of the spit but today the cool wind prevents any thoughts of sunbathing or swimming. So instead we check out Fossil Point where fossilized shells and worm casts are found in blocks of mudstone fallen from the cliffs.
On the south side of the spit during low tide the mud flats are covered with flocks of birds searching for seafood. It's just a few hours past high tide so the flocks of birds haven't arrived yet, but we still come across Black swans, Caspian terns, and a single Bar-tailed godwit.
Just west of the spit is Cape Farewell, the most northern location on the South Island of NZ. It is rugged and carved by the wind and ocean waves. The mammoth cliffs and caves are so big, it seems hard to take it all in. The vegetation is continuously pounded by strong winds and so much of the vegetation is windswept scrub growing horizontally to the ground.
We head to Wharariki Beach with its dramatic coastline consisting of massive sea arches, soaring sandstone cliffs, echoing caves, scattered islands, and golden beaches. The winds here are remarkably strong, forcing you to take a few steps here and there to stabilize yourself. This is one of the most breathtaking coasts we've ever been to.
The next day Reg has us cleaning and reloading stoat traps that haven't been successful with any kills. Stoats are deadly killers to NZ's native bird life and killing them is forefront in conservation. The local watering hole, The Mussel Inn, offers a free pint with every stoat tail turned in. Now that is some incentive to set some traps.
Reg has been itching for three years to use flat river stones to face the concrete around the front of his house. With my mason wizardry skills, I use stones that we collect down at the river to make his dreams come true. I enlist the help of everyone, Julie prepping stones and giving the wall a skim coat, and Reg clearing the dirt away from the foundation and even slapping a few stones on. With a few long days we manage to finish to a point where Reg can easily polish the job off on his own with the skills and know how past on from myself. Reg was gleaming with delight at the finished results. To celebrate the completion of the job, his 70th b-day, Jodie giving birth to a health baby boy, and the fact the we are now Aunt Julie and Uncle Nathan for the first time, we crack many a beer and toast to all. The stress of wondering about the progress with Julie's sister's pregnancy is over and she spends some time on Skype getting all the details.
While staying at Reg's we decide to take 2 days off and do the nearby trek to Boulder Lake Hut, an alpine lake at roughly 1000 m elevation. The trek takes us through lush native forest, over crevices in the forest floor, beyond the tree line through alpine scrub, and over ridges of loose shingle. We are constantly fighting the uphill battle and trek into the clouds in the early afternoon. Finally the sight of the picturesque lake is a godsend. Unfortunately our hard work isn't rewarded this time, as the clouds had set in before we reached the tree line and this thick blanket didn't lift until after our hike out. The night at Boulder Lake Hut is our first “hut” experience. It is so secluded, remote, and peaceful. This is not a tourist type track and you could tell. Nearby are two waterfalls, one behind the hut and the other was the point where Boulder Lake overflowed into the valley far below. Crystal clear alpine water flowed over both falls. As we hike out in the misty morning Julie stumbles upon a Kea, its dark silhouette against the grey backdrop. Kea's are the only alpine parrot in the world and are notorious scavengers that have become quite brave. An unguarded backpack or hut door left open could spell disaster. They have been also know to kill a sheep simply by continuously pecking on their back until taking it down. Luckily, this one is not so brave.
The trek out is all downhill, much easier than the trek in, but our legs are fatigued and the terrain is very slippery from the clouds and morning dew. As a result, we take a couple tumbles but nothing life threatening.
Because we completed the trek out 1 hour quicker than the trek in, we head to Salisbury Suspension Bridge just down the road. This footbridge was built in March 1887 and the Salisbury Creek and the footbridge were both named after the Salisbury family who came to seek their fortune in gold in 1860. It was built over the beautiful Aorere River.
We spent the next days recovering from the trek, and working. We decide to have a feast of cockles for our last meal at Reg`s so Julie and I head down to the ocean. Raking and digging through the coastal sand flats at low tide we gather much less than the generous limit of 150 per person. We steam them on the BBQ and enjoy every morsal. Seafood is great to have so readily available. The only problem is too much of good thing can turn bad.