Saturday 29 September 2018

Mainland tour, Day 3 - Plenty of frogs and weka, but no mussels

With thanks to NelsonTasman
There was a mix-up about tide tables today - did you know there's also a Collingwood in the US? - so I ended up having to skip breakfast and to shoot off back towards Cape Farewell in order to get to Wharariki Beach while there was still plenty of sand. Fortunately the road was very quiet (and the many one-way bridges were mine, all mine) and I got there in time. There's a car park, a 20-minute walk through a farm, then bush, then dunes, and then there you are, on a magnificently wild and remote-feeling beach with the Tasman rolling in onto the fine, gold-sparkled sand - and not a soul in sight.
In the middle of the bay are the Archway Islands - a typically Kiwi down-to-earth name for some artistically pierced and placed rocky islets. There are caves, sculpted headlands, wind-bent manuka thickets, waving golden marram grass, reflecting pools and, apparently, seal cubs. I didn't see them because I was so occupied exploring the opposite end of the beach that I almost got caught there by the incoming tide, so I had to forgo trekking down to their little colony. It was spectacularly wild, the wind blowing away my footprints in the sand the moment I'd made them. It was well worth missing breakfast for.
Our next call was the Mussel Inn and brewery on the way back towards Takaka. I'd enjoyed their Freckled Frog feijoa cider last night at Zatori, but it was still too early for alcohol (or mussels...) and the pub doesn't have an off-licence (!) so I had to make do with coffee out in their garden. Dogs aren't allowed, because of the weka that wander through; the toilets, walls papered with beer labels, are composting; the friendly barmaid had dreads; and locals have their own beer mugs hanging over the bar (the pub reserves the right to reject those it feels are too big). It's that sort of establishment! Fun.
Taking the advice of Tracey at Zatori, we made a detour to The Grove, a park in behind Takaka with a very pleasant walk through the bush that ends up winding through and around some huge rocks to a lookout over Golden Bay that feels man-made, it's so perfectly placed. But it isn't.
We headed off back over Takaka Hill again, still astonished at the endless curves and corners but entranced by the views, which were highlighted today by unseasonal snow on distant mountains. It was all blue and green gorgeousness - classic Mainland beauty. It's so good to be back! Then we wound down into Marahau, to check into Abel Tasman Lodge, which is a very welcoming and comfortable motel, our room looking out onto a big lawn busy with quails and a weka family, a stream and some stables beyond. 
A ride would have been the icing on the cake, but it wasn't a bad alternative to go for a walk along the seafront, winding along a path through the scrub down to the rippled sand, the tide well out again, and the sun throwing long shadows. We ate that night at the Fat Tui burger van, thoroughly enjoying their basic Cowpat burger, with afterwards the treat of a deep-fried Moro bar (shades of Glasgow - not). Then we settled in for a cosy night serenaded by frogs.

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