Sunday 30 September 2018

Mainland tour, Day 4 - Over and under

With thanks to NelsonTasman
Today was a mix of old and new, for me. Marahau is sort of in the middle, since I was here in January with the Baby, for her brilliant kayak-expedition Christmas present to me - it began and ended just down the road from our motel. But the first stop of the day took me way back - our Abel Tasman Eco Tour with Fay called first at Kaiteriteri, where I had a number of family holidays in my distant youth. The campground now is very different, much more developed and busy - but the beach is still as sandy and golden as when I crouched in the shallows, desperately trying to learn how to waterski (on clunky home-made skis, behind a less-clunky home-made boat that I'd spent my share of time crouching underneath holding a wooden block against the hull as Dad hammered nails into it...)
We went then to Towers Bay, a classic golden sand beach streaked with black iron sand with Split Apple Rock artistically placed off to one side - a slightly more imaginative name than is usual in New Zealand, but still pretty factual. And then, dear reader, we tackled Takaka Hill again! Just as many curves and corners, just as steep up and down - can you believe it, it's a school bus route! This time, though, we stopped near the top at Ngarua Caves, where we joined a tour with Dave that took us down and through, lights on and off, seeing stalagmites and stalactites, 28,000 year-old moa bones, more recent kiwi and possum skeletons, copperplate graffiti on limestone curtains, stairs, straws and puddles. Stories too - like the woman out orienteering, who fell into a tomo, had her fall broken by a dead cow that had done the same thing, and was saved by her PLB. That's the trouble with a marble hill - it does tend to have holes in it.
After a lookout over Harwoods Hole that would have reminded me of Switzerland if I had ever been there (tch), we dropped down to go see the Riuwaka* Resurgence, a river that pumps out of a cave, the beautifully clear turquoise water originally rain that fell on the hill and has been filtered down through the marble. It makes the sort of contrast with the lime-green moss and ferns all around it that only nature can get away with. Gorgeous. And very, very cold.
And that was it for the tour, after six hours of chat and information, conversation and opinion - very enjoyable. Especially the filled rolls Fay supplied for lunch. They were delicious - as was the mushroom soup at the Honest Lawyer in Nelson that night. Though the excellent strawberry and lime cider that preceded it may have had some influence.
* When my story about this appeared in the paper, an irritated reader emailed me, objecting to my use of [officially accepted, corrected spelling] Riuwaka, instead of [former use, bastardised] Riwaka.
His name, dear reader, was Warrick.

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