Through the clouds 1
This was the scenery on the top of the hils - see the mist on the left hand side of the slope.
Without sighting any nudists (disappointment or relief? You decide), we left the camp at Mapua and headed north and stayed overnight just south of a small town called Motueka. The next day, we headed not only north again, but this time, up into the clouds - we were heading into the hills and there were loads of low clouds so that underneath it was a cloudy, overcast day. However, reaching the top of the hills, there was brilliant sunshine and the surrounding slopes were wreathed in mist.
We carried on for half an hour or so and then turned off into an unsealed road to visit a place called Harwoods Hole - a huge hole, approx 180 metres deep (also New Zealand’s largest hole). The 45 minute walk from the car park was more like a walk/scramble - the first part of it was a path through woods, but then the path becomes blocked by these huge boulders. On looking round to see where the path continued, we saw that it didn’t and we had to then climb over these rocks for a good 20 minutes and with slippery stones and moss this was not to be rushed. Still, scrambling
This was a lookout point that we came to after driving up through the clouds to find it was really sunny. 'Twas pretty high up, I can tell you!
over these boulders was good practice for as we neared the finale, the stones became HUGE! - no putting your feet on the ground in between these - this was proper climbing! We climbed to the edge (well, as near as we dared go) and tried to peer down into the cavernous hole - sadly there’s no way you can see to the bottom but the echoes were pretty good.
After a brief photo shoot, we climbed/scrambled/walked back to the van and prepared to camp out there for the night, next to the woods. Not long after getting back, it started to rain. “Good timing” we thought. In the evening, the rain that had started was now a full rain storm - bursts of torrential rain pelting the sides and roof of the van and the gusts of wind making the trees creek in the wind. The night was completely and utterly pitch black - when we were forced to go outside (which was when we were absolutely desperate, believe me!), you could not see the hand in front of your face. Owing to the noise of the roof, we must have had about half an hours sleep that
Harwoods Hole - the path
Yes, this was the path as we found it (this was a good bit too!)
night and we watched the thin grey light of dawn creep in. The rain did not relent and by morning, the van was standing in an inch of water. When we did surface, mists were rolling down the hills towards us and then disappearing - so one minute, pea soup fog and you could only see a few yards away; next minute, you could see right up the top of the hills - very strange.
After packing up and feeling very soggy, we drove on along to a place called Takaka where we tried to dry things out as best we could in between the intermittent showers of rain that we were getting. The following day, we went to the Grove Scenic Reserve just outside of Takaka where you walk up through limestone scenery and pass through these two large rock faces (a few metres apart) and then come out the other side to a great view over the plain. Luckily the rain had stopped and the sun had decided to join us.
Back through Takaka and on the main road, we then turned off at Pupu springs where this huge river of water just appears from nowhere.
Me at Harwoods Hole
That was the closest to the edge that I dare go - didn't fancy falling in.
Apparently the springs emit 40 bath tubs of water per second! (you see? Insightful and informative all in one). The water is so clear - even in 3 feet of water, you can see the bottom as clearly as if it were part of the ground you were standing on.
Continuing on the main road, we drive on to the old mining village of Collingwood and stay at the motor camp there for the night. The next day, we are hustled out of the camp by the wife of the camp owner (you are meant to leave camps generally by 10am but as it’s not the busy season, we’re rather relaxed about this and tend to take our time). However, although we are the only people in the place, at 10.10 we get an abrupt knock on the door and are reminded that we should have left by 10. Oh puhleeeeease! Clearly a case of not having anything better to do….
Anyway, after feeling slightly put out for having to rush (you just don’t rush over here!), we drive up towards Farewell Spit - the long bar of sand on the very top NW part of the southern
Pro pic at Harwoods Hole
We just happened to have a photographer with us...
island. We stop at the café at the end of the road at Port Puponga and properly wake up before driving off on one of the side roads. We park up and head towards Wharariki Beach and spend about 2 hours walking round on the fabulous beach with great sand dunes and grassy hillocks. After taking pictures we then head back and stay over at a nearby campsite - hopefully we’ll have an unhurried morning tomorrow.
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