Extended Trip - Sunday 1 February 2015 to Monday 16 February 2015 (16 days)

Collingwood, Takaka area and Motueka

It was a small group of 10 who gathered at Nelson airport for a rather different Safari - without Big Blue! Nevertheless we all enjoyed it immensely and our hired minibus was very convenient and easily driven by John, Dave and Russell taking alternate days.

February 1st After a big shop in Motueka we drove through cloudy drizzle to the charming village of Collingwood. It’s very small, just one main street with several old buildings and an 1873 church. Gold was found in the Aorere valley in 1856 - the first goldfield in NZ - with over 1000 men working there. The local Maori chief was one of the signatories to the Treaty of Waitangi. There was also coal mining in the area.

February 2nd There was heavy rain in the morning so it was a case of coffee, shopping and museum. We set off after lunch to explore the Aorere Goldfields area with a visit to 2 caves and a pleasant 3 hour walk to a reservoir which supplied the water race for gold sluicing.

February 3rd A fine clear day but strong winds almost blew us off the cliff tops as we tramped through the Puponga Farm Park near Farewell Spit. There were fantastic views over the Spit and the rocky coast where seals live. In the evening we dined at Mussel Inn to celebrate Phil’s birthday and we were joined by Chris and Noel Ashton, also on holiday in the area.

February 4th We drove up the Aorere valley to the Kaituna Forks walking track - a delightful 8km return forest walk following the river. The river was a bit too high for the adventurous ones to cross to continue tramping so we happily returned to the Naked Possum for coffee and muffins! Thus fortified, we visited the old Bainham Store and the Salisbury falls, set in an interesting rocky gorge.


February 5th Quite a long drive on unsealed roads took us across to the Westhaven Lagoon where we climbed the easy track to Knuckle Hill (506m) with fabulous views across the lagoon to the coast. Although it was a clear sunny day, there was still a strong cold wind so we didn’t linger on the top. After lunch we drove further round to visit the two small Kaihoka Lakes near the coast.

February 6th We spent a very enjoyable morning in lively Takaka before driving to Pohara and settling in at the rather different but comfortable Sandcastle Motel.

February 7th Pupu Springs are the largest freshwater springs in Australasia and we inspected these after walking around the Pupu Hydro Walkway. This is a 2 hour walk through lovely bush and then along an interesting water race, developed in 1901 for gold mining and then converted to a hydro power station in 1929. This fell into disrepair and was extensively renovated by volunteers in the 1980’s. Today the power serves the local community and the national grid.

February 8th We drove over the long winding hill to Totaranui. Four of us set off on the Abel Tasman Coast track northwards via several beautiful beaches to Separation Point, where we watched some seals. Then we went on to Wainui Inlet where the bus picked us up - this is a lovely 4-5 hour tramp. The others did a shorter return walk on the coast track.

February 9th This was an easy day visiting 5 different sites. We started with the Abel Tasman Memorial at Pohara and then on to the DOC Grove Reserve - a beautiful area of bush with stunning karst rock formations. Nearby we walked through the Labyrinth Rocks - more karst formations and tracks developed by volunteers and it was then a short drive for refreshments in busy Takaka. We ate lunch in the Paynes Ford reserve, watching a group of young people rock climbing, then went on to the Rawhiti Cave reserve where most of us managed the steep rocky climb to a stunning cave covered in stalactities - 2 hours return.

February 10th Abel Tasman Park again where we did a cross-over tramp via Gibbs Hill (400m). Russell, Liz & Phil walked up from Wainui Inlet and the others started at Pigeon Saddle on the Totaranui road. This easy walk takes 2 - 3 hours and has great open views of Wainui Bay. On the way back to Pohara we stopped at the marina and had coffee on Jacques Cousteau’s old boat and fed sting rays from the rocks.

February 11th We travelled back over the Takaka Hill to Motueka stopping on the way for a look at the Riwaka resurgence where an underground river emerges.

February 12th A drive along the Motueka River took us up to Flora carpark where everyone completed a lovely circuit. We climbed up to Arthur hut above the bush line then descended to Flora hut and back over Flora Saddle to the carpark - a good variety of open tops scenery, great views, beech forest and lots of bird life.

February 13th We were up early to catch the water taxi to Torrent Bay on the Abel Tasman track. It was low tide so we travelled (rather tentatively) barefoot across a shell-strewn and muddy estuary to cut 2kms off the track. It was still a good 4 hours back to Marahau, enjoying great coastal scenery and beautiful beaches. We were very pleased to find a café at the end of the track.

February 14th Back up the Takaka Hill and along an 11km rough dirt road to Canaan Reserve and the track to Harwoods Hole cave. This is a dramatic area with lots of karst cliffs and rocks everywhere and it’s a scramble to get near the edge but we all managed to get fairly close without falling in! A damp drizzle caused us to cut the tramping short and visit the renowned Toad Hall café in southern Motueka.

February 15th We had a long drive along the Motueka and Wangapeka rivers to Rolling Junction and the start of the Wangapeka track where we all followed the beautiful river as far as we wanted to go, had lunch then returned.

February 16th A great holiday over - thanks to Susan and John for organising the itinerary and accommodation, to the drivers for a safe trip - and everyone for your lovely company.

Participants: Susan Grimsdell, John Minson, Dave Best, Russell Allen, Brenda Simpson, Anne Stone, Anne Sanders, Billie French, Phil Ware, Liz Ware (scribe).