|Nelson and beyond 10th – 11th March Blog 151
Stopping in Nelson town we stock up on a few things and give Simon and Sam a ring. They got in touch and invited us to stay after a friend of theirs met us on the road and emailed them our website. They are both out but I leave a message, we pre warned them a few days ago that we were on our way. We have to back track a little but it’s not too far and by the time we get there they are both back from work and we receive a warm welcome. Simon cranks up the barbie and we ask him if he can suggest how best to cook our Mussels and boy are we glad we did. He boils them in a large pan to make them open then splits the shells in two keeping the yummy half and discarding the rest. Next comes the good bit, he fills the half shell up with wine and puts it on the bbq we weren’t expecting that ! By the time the wine has more or less reduced they are ready and wow they are good. Unsurpisingly they don’t last long but they make a great starter. Following this we have some cracking steaks and sausages some of which are from his own smallholding (or lifestyle block as they are known here).They are both Guzzi riders and really good company so we spend a very pleasant evening eating, drinking and talking about motorcycles, travel Guzzi’s etc.
Next day they are both off to work early (well somebodys got to) we just catch them to say bye and thanks. Simon says it’s fine to come back after we have been up north to Abel Tasman national park our next destination. He also suggests a local guy who can help with tyres as the coarse chip roads here mean ours are both munted to use the local lingo. Simon says it would be wise to give him some notice in case he needs to get them in. This works really well as we now know we will be back here in a few days time. I make the call but get the voicemail, so we decide to pop in and sort it face to face as we are headed that way anyway. After a coffee, breakfast, a quick shower and pack up we are on our way.
We find Bullion motorcycles/cycletreads easily and after a quick chat with Clive the helpful owner things are underway so we can head out.
We stop briefly in Motueka for fuel, while we are there I nip into a hardware chain opposite to buy some more rope but at over $5 a metre I soon have second thoughts considering we need 25m at least.
We will have to try and find some cheaper elsewhere, I do however splash out on a bottle of dark rum from the bottleshop next to the garage. We know the place we are going to is fairly remote so it’s easer to carry than lots of beer and might stand a fighting chance of lasting the 2 or 3 days we plan to be up there. Just before we go an elderly local man comes over to look at the bike and have a chat. We answer the usual questions and have a nice chat to him and before he leaves he suggests somewhere to visit on the way that most tourists miss. We thank him for the tip and head out of town, a few km later we see the landmark he mentioned at the bottom of Takaka hill and turn off to the source of the Riwaka river.
The road gets narrower and windier and eventually ends in a small dirt car park. We walk up the path alongside the river until we get to the crystal pools, these are on a bend in the river and are really deep but incredibly clear. It is the cleanest looking water we’ve ever seen, we take some pictures as the setting is also beautiful woodland. This area is a protected reserve and is sacred to Maori whose beliefs are often closely interwoven with nature.
Further on up the trail we come to the source, I can’t think of many times I have actually been right at the source of a river and this one is surreal appearing to come right out from under a rock face.
We learn from the signboards that this water has filtered down through Takaka hill, the massive one we are about to climb and literally is spring water. Plenty of people including locals have bought containers to fill up, we didn’t know but it’s not far to walk so we we make sure both water bags are full before we leave but in the meantime we clamber down on the rocks and scoop up a handfull to taste. It is really really cold and it tastes delicous, a little earthy but in a good way. The pool at the base of the rock must be at least 3 metres (10 feet) deep but you can see every pebble on the bottom quite amazing.
Back at the bike we find a picnic table and make lunch, lots of people come over to say hi and take pictures we chat to Australians, Kiwi’s and Americans amongst others. Now though it’s time to hit Tarkaka hill, Murray told us we would enjoy this and he wasn’t wrong. It’s just bend after bend after bend and goes on for about 20km climbing madly as it goes. It’s an awesome road and we are having a ball, at the top we see a viewpoint car park so stop for a look. The view is obscured by bush so there is a track to a board walk view point out on stilts. Along the track there are info boards explaining that this hill is made of marble and limestone in layers, limestone is porous and marble isn’t but water and gravity find cracks and fissures in the rock and this is how the water is filtered and eventually comes out at the bottom (where we have just been) as a spring. The view at the end is magnificent and well worth the five minute walk.
Carrying on we eventually get to Golden Bay a pretty little town with quirky shops both sides of it’s mainstreet. We turn off here but don’t linger save a few pictures as there is still some distance to go and will be passing through on the way back.
The road to Totaranui gets narrower and swoopier and the scenery more picturesqe as we get closer to the coast. The road eventually turns to gravel or more accurately dirt, it also gets much more twisty but it’s fun to ride as its hard packed and dry.
It seems to go on and on even though its only just over 20km long partly I guess because your average speed is quite slow. I remember thinking I hope it doesn’t rain as we were riding in, the road would be a lot trickier after heavy rain.
Eventually we get to the DOC camp and turn into a field which leads into another field, we ride around looking for a good spot and eventually spot one with a firepit and a picnic table that’s not too far from the toilets and not too close either. We pitch camp and don our togs to go for a swim, the water is cold but refreshing and its an amazing beach silver sand and sooooo long. Afterward we set about making dinner, sausages tonight with veg and pasta yum. After we have eaten and started on the rum and coke a German biker pulls into our field and camps nearby, the bike breaks the ice as always and we get chatting for the rest of the evening. His name is Johanus but he says call me John it’s easier, he is travelling on his own and has mostly been backpacking however he rides at home so has bought a bike in NZ to tour around on. It’s a Honda road bike, I think its a 750 similar to a VF or a Bol d Or but I have never seen quite like it before. He is only lightly loaded with his back packing gear bungeed on but it’s nice to see someone else tackling gravel roads on a road bike.
He is easy to talk to and glad of the company we think, he says he hasn’t seen anyone else touring on a bike. We sit around the fire talking until late when all of a sudden a DOC worker comes round on a quad bike, he explains there has been a huge earthquake in Japan and a Tsunami warning has been issued. He advises us to get organised to evacuate and says that if they come around again we need to ready to leave asap. We thank him for the warning, bid him goodnight and sober up instantly, John goes to sort out his gear and we survey the inside of the tipi. We have done our usual trick of spreading out far too much and there is stuff everywhere. We snap into survival mode and pack everything that’s not needed to sleep on or in back on the bike. When that’s done we are a bit jittery knowing how destructive a Tsunami can be, Karen has a good idea and breaks out our transistor radio, there are not many stations available but we find one and listen to the news. They say that nothing will make landfall until six o’clock tomorrow morning, this makes us sleep a whole lot better and we set the alarm early knowing we have done all we can. We hear a few camper vans leaving that night but it’s 20km to get out of here in the dark on gravel so it’s safer to stay put until we know more or so we hope……