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Days 231-233 Friday-Sunday December 7-9 – Takaka, Nelson & Westport, New Zealand
Starting near Takaka on Friday morning, we headed first to Wainui Falls, which lie in Abel Tasman National Park, about a thirty minute hike from the carpark. The hike was very simple as it followed the river upstream towards the falls. During the first fifteen minutes we passed over several wooden bridges until we came to an exciting place. There on the path just in front of us was a genuine swing bridge. While we have all been on swing bridges before, none of them have crossed real rivers at such a height. After crossing the swing bridge and enjoying every moment of it, we headed another fifteen minutes along the river until the magnificent falls were right in front of us. The falls are located in a nice secluded spot. The beauty of the area made us consider jumping in for a swim, but we hadn’t brought any trunks with us. We spent around fifteen minutes gazing into the falls while enjoying the slight mist coming off of them, before repeating the hike back to the car and heading over to our next destination the Grove Scenic Reserve.
The Grove Scenic Reserve was a ten minute drive from the falls and when we arrived another trail lay before us. This time the ten minute walk led us past massive Rata trees and beautiful limestone formations. The payoff at the end of the path was a beautiful lookout located between two massive vertical cliffs. The spot is rather magical.
Back at the carpark, we made sandwiches for lunch and enjoyed them on a picnic table while debating what to do next. The guidebook mentioned a natural maze complex called Labyrinth Rocks Park and while we weren’t interested in another man made maze, the fact that this maze was carved into the limestone formations peaked our interest. Unfortunately when we arrived, the park was closed, but we did get to see a couple of dwarves in the parking lot.
From the maze park we headed back through Takaka to Waikoropupu Springs or Pupu Springs for short. On the way back through town a lady jetted out from behind a parked car to cross the street while looking back towards her friends while talking. Luckily I saw her and swerved to the other side, but when she saw me and screamed, her hand swung around and hit our car. It turned out that she was alright, but this incident put me on edge the rest of the day.
Pupu Springs are described as being a stunning place, but to be honest I wasn’t sure how this was going to be. I mean, they are just springs right? To get to the springs from the carpark, we had to walk a thirty minute loop that took us to some of the twelve springs in the group. Human contact with the water is not allowed now as the government fears that a bacteria that has invaded neighboring streams and rivers will get into the water and force it to lose its clarity.
The water at Pupu springs is said to be the clearest outside of Antarctica. I am able to attest to this fact as I never knew water could be as clear and beautiful than it is in Pupu Springs. During the thirty minutes, we walked from spring to springs and really were in awe of the beauty. I have never seen water in my life that screamed “swim in me” more, but as mentioned before this is prohibited so we had to just follow the track and imagine bathing in the crystal clear water.
The springs marked our last stop in the Takaka area so we got back on the road towards Nelson where we settled for the night. On Saturday, we got into the car and immediately began to drive southwest of Nelson towards the coast. Specifically, we were headed to the town of Westport, which is said to be a bit old fashioned. To be honest, when we arrived, it seemed pretty much the same as everywhere else.
Our first stop in Westport was the I-site where we looked into booking accommodation. A sign in the I-site was advertising their local Christmas parade, which we had just missed by about an hour. Before long, we had a cabin booked out on the beach five minutes away from town. Upon arriving at the holiday park, we found our cabin to be nice and spacious and in lieu of doing anything else, we called it quits for the day around 2pm.
Usually when we find ourselves giving up so early in the day it is because of fatigue, so we agreed to stay another night at the same park to get some rest. The only two things we wanted to do in the area on Sunday were visit a local lighthouse and seal colony, which we knew would take around an hour, so we decided to leave the rest of the day free to rest.
Waking up on Sunday morning, we saw that the weather had shifted. Much of the night on Saturday rain battered our cabin, but we saw a brief hole in the weather to get out and see the seals and the lighthouse so we took it. The seal colony at Cape Foulwind is the northernmost seal colony in New Zealand. A ten minute hike from the carpark leads to cliffs looking straight down on the colony.
Upon arriving at the colony, we were happy to see plenty of seals lounging on the rocks below. This time of year is their mating season so there are many more seals in the colony than usual. During our twenty minutes or so of viewing, we saw a couple of lively exchanges between seals and found the experience very fun. At one point, we saw two seals on the beach, but before we could get down to see them closer, some kids had scared them off. On the way back to the car we found a few place markers reminding us just how far from home (and everywhere else) we really are!
From the seal colony, we drove around five minutes back towards town to the Cape Foulwind Lighthouse. The lighthouse is not open for viewing, so the five minute walk there only entitled us to get some great views and a few photos of the building’s exterior. With our long itinerary taken care of, we headed back to the cabin and stayed inside most of the day as the rain returned and continued coming down in droves. We hope it doesn’t stay this way!
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The Coomer Family
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