February 12, 2016
We left Westport promptly at 8 am and proceeded inland through farm country along a river. Gradually we reached the mountains as we headed east once more. The mountains are not too formidable in the northern part of the South Island. We eventually turned north and Peggy declined the chance to bungee jump once more at Buller Gorge. As we headed up the Motueka Valley we realized that New Zealand is more than sheep and cows. Fruit trees, hops, grapes and vegetable crops festooned the road. It was enjoyable driving through tiny villages like Korere, Motopiku, Mararewa, Tapawere, Staley Brook and finally Woodstock. All were similar but unique to the residents. The climate is mild year round and always green. I guess you might say idyllic.
We finally reached Tasman Bay at the northern end of the South Island. We were back in tourist area as folks flock to the Abel Tasman National Park. We found a picnic spot on the beach at Kaiteriteri and stuck our feet in the water. There is no road through the National Park so we headed over Takata Hill Scenic Drive. There are over 350 turns in 17 km. It is kind of like an extended drive up Big Hill Road but with no pot holes. We stopped at a short trail to a lookout. The trail was covered with Karst that had been magically eroded by rain and wind. I hope the pictures capture their essence. I thought the drive was easy. Our flat land, Massachusetts friend was freaking out. We made it and reached the cute little town of Takaka. It sounds Japanese but it is not.
We reached our isolated beach front lodging after driving through Takaka and Rangihaeata. I have included the names so the reader can get an idea of what the driver, passenger conversations are like as we try to pronounce the unpronounceable and read the signs. We managed to find the gravel road that led to our place for the night. The dog Lucy greeted us along with the mother in law who was handling the chores. The rooms are wonderful and you just need to cross the large lawn to reach the beach. It was high tide when we got here and the beach was only a few feet wide. I still managed to find a vertebrae from a small whale. Our host was not home so we went to town.
We found salmon for the barbecue and some local Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and other necessities. We visited a local scenic spot known as the Grove. it contained incredible rocks and jungle vines and trees. We wandered through a phantasmagorical environment for an hour. Plenty of pictures of rocks and vines. We finally returned to our place by the bay. The tide was heading out leaving hundreds of yards of shells and silty sand. My idea of using the kayaks went bust since we would have had to drag them about a mile to the water. Maybe tomorrow when the tide is in.
Obviously we get to see many different types of accommodations. This is the best so far. We have our private patio and cooking area along with a full kitchen inside. The two bedrooms work perfectly for us. Everything is modern and the setting is magnificent. The innkeeper is a high school math teacher with the nickname of Buddha. His bald pate explains it all. He bought the place a couple years ago and always has his three rooms full during the season. He has four kids and this is a big part of his retirement planning. He is making some great moves. Very enjoyable and personable chap.
We wandered across the mud flats now that the tide is out. Lots of Oyster Catcher birds and some Stilts. There were zillions of clam shells. The water is shallow and warm. We plan to explore in the morning before leaving. The farmed King Salmon is cooking and Lucy the dog is hoping for a taste.