Farewell to the South Island

After leaving Nelson, there was one last area I wanted to visit on the South Island. Golden Bay, Cape Farewell and Farewell Spit.

There was a slight problem however. The weather wasn’t playing nice.

After a couple days of middling weather, the skies opened up with a torrent of rain.

Shortly after leaving Collingwood to head to my hostel for the night I started regretting my choice. But I made it to the hostel in one piece and the roads at the time were passable. That lasted about an hour. This is what happened to the driveway into the hostel.

After about 12 hours of heavy, heavy rain, the waterworks eased back and calm returned. The damage to the hostel itself was pretty dramatic – they lost their water system, telephone line, bridge to a second house, significant damage to the driveway and one wet cat.

Next morning brought a different scene.

Because I had delayed 3 days already due to weather, I headed directly to where I wanted to spend much of my day – Farewell Spit. Even here, you could see the amount of debris that the rains had washed out in Golden Bay, only to wash up on the spit.

Farewell Spit is the largest sand spit in New Zealand, clocking in around 27 kilometers long, and probably about a kilometer wide. And tons of sand means sand dunes!

Crossing from the Golden Bay, southern beach to the north side of the spit is quite fun and very scenic.

With the heavy rains yesterday, quite a few lakes had formed in the middle of the spit. It also created a problem I didn’t quite expect, though probably should have. But I hadn’t come across it just yet.

The strong winds had left neat markings around all of the grasses.

Finally seeing the other side, the open ocean.

With high tide approaching, the beach was starting to disappear. The north side beach however is quite massive.

Beautiful, but with a hazard to hikers – quicksand. There was a small warning at the beginning, but I didn’t pay it much attention. Because it’s hiking along a beach! Where is the problem with that? And for 99% of the walking along the beach, it was as one would expect – solid, easy, and flat walking. Then on your next step your foot disappears in the sand. No visual indication, just suddenly the ground isn’t solid anymore. It’s a bizarre sensation, but not overly pleasant either. And when you step forward and go up to the knee in sand? Then it gets a bit more concerning. The quicksand never lasted more than a couple steps, but after the first couple of times it happened, the walk was a bit more stressful than I originally thought.

Eventually though I headed back to higher, more solid ground. No more problems there as I trekked back to the mainland.

The high tide was approaching quickly now, and the beach was disappearing quickly.

But I was finished with my time on the spit. I crossed over some lush farmland and looked back down towards Farewell Spit.

That wasn’t all I came to see however. Cape Farewell was my second stop. This is the northernmost end of the South Island.

A very scenic and quiet spot in it’s own right.

 My third hike of the day was my favourite – Wharariki Beach.

Stunning beach. Unfortunately with the high tide I couldn’t explore TOO far (to see the Archway Islands), but I loved what I could see anyways.

Lots of sand dunes here to climb as well.

And two more pictures before I head to my final spot…

My last stop in the Golden Bay area was a place called Te Waikoropupu Springs. Or Pupu Springs as it’s most often known.

Pictures don’t really tell the whole story here. Pupu springs is notable for two reasons – it’s the largest spring in Australasia, and it has the clearest water in the world that is accessible (the clearest is in the Antarctic, good luck seeing it!). The clarity of the water is such that you can see up to 63 meters through it, and it makes the springs look much shallower than they actually are. The green grass and blue-tinged sand are actually quite far below the surface in this picture. Pretty cool place.

Finally, after a full day, I headed back towards Motueka for the night (30 minutes outside Nelson). There was one last surprise in store for me though. From Golden Bay to Motueka, you cross the Takaka Hill, which rises about 750 meters above sea level. When that heavy rain fell on Golden Bay, some of it fell as snow elsewhere…surprise! Yup, it is definitely time to head north.


One thought on “Farewell to the South Island

  1. Incredible photos. Was just back there myself. Did you make it to Harwood’s Hole? A very nice walkway back there, with marble outcrops. Anyway, we pretty much did the same walks you did – but I think you got better photos!