We raced north from Christchurch at Warp Factor 7, or about 50 kilometres per hour – about as fast as little ‘Abe’ could go in a straight line – across the Lewis Pass and on to another DOC (Department of Conservation) campsite at Canaan Downs as a stop off before the much anticipated Golden Bay.
Ruth wasn’t this excited when I proposed to her. Honestly. We began speculating on the campervans, big black screens and marquee we could just about see. It had to be the filming of The Hobbit. We crawled past as slowly as possible, not difficult in our little beast, and asked the vacant security guard what was going on. “What? Eh? Oh, it’s a party”. Yeah, right. What kind of a party has a stable full of horses? On the way out the following day Ruth sat next to me in the passenger seat and unable to contain herself ‘papped’ as many photos as she could of trucks, grass and campervans, shouting “He’s got a beard, he must be a dwarf!”.
We collared a guy directing the vehicles who told us his lips were sealed. “Alright then”, we said. “Blink once for yes and twice for no, is this filming of The Hobbit?”. The fella clearly couldn’t contain himself either and nodded so vigorously I thought his eyes might pop out.
The previous night we’d taken a short stroll to Harwood’s Hole. I’d aimed to get there for ‘Golden Hour’ (the hour before sunset where the colours and shadows are perfect for photos) and luckily it paid off. Only 15 minutes from the campsite was this spectacular view! Incredible.
Harwood’s Hole is a pretty daunting place too, at 183 metres it’s one of the deepest caves in NZ, and has become an abseiler’s paradise!
We arrived in Takaka, Golden Bay clammering to see our friends Nay, Joe and Liz and met up with them all over the next few days. Nay and Liz took me rock climbing, Joe took us skinny dipping, Liz taught us that she could get inside an incredibly small cupboard. Impressive.
Golden Bay was fantastic, right up our street. Arty and creative, easy going and relaxed, it was just what we were after. We pitched ourselves up in Hangdog Campsite (made for rock climbers) and used it as a base to explore the Bay, then back in the evening for campfires and to make good use of the pizza oven.
Ruth spent the first three days carving a mask with Chris Bone, while I picked mussels, explored and generally just took it easy. Why hasn’t this idea caught on back at home by the way? At a local farm you can pop by with your own bottle, or a fancy old style one they’ll sell you, then throw a couple of dollars into a vending machine and hey presto, absolutely gorgeous creamy milk ‘straight from the tit’ as Joe put it! I shall be rolling this out in the UK very soon. ‘Udderly Glorious Milk Straight From The Tit’. Catchy. Here’s their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Village-Milk/104278253030585
There’s far too much to say about The Bay in one post so I’ll leave it at that and let the photos do the rest of the work. Part 2 coming soon.
As usual, click the pictures to enlarge them.