We checked into an airbnb right across the street from Tata Beach in Golden Bay. This area is primarily residential and the beach isn’t populated with tourists (or anyone for that matter). Actually nothing is populated here and that’s what makes the natural setting so serene. [Neville] owner and host of the house converted his entire downstairs basement into a separate private apartment. Right across the street in front of the house was the beach and behind was a beautiful estuary facing the mountains.
The owners ran their home in the most eco-friendly way. Composting the raw trash for their garden, recycling and using rainwater as the water supply for the house. It’s always nice to be able to help the earth while enjoying the comforts of home. His wife Debbie even supplied us with homemade yogurt and unpasteurized milk from a dairy farm and unlimited use of the fruits and vegetables in her garden.
The Te Waikoropupu springs is sacred water of New Zealand and also the cleanest, clearest and purest water springs in the world. I spotted an eel and crawfish living in the fresh water. The water looks like a clear fish tank with the most vibrant colors of plants, shiny things and rocks. There are signs posted everywhere not to touch the water or remove any water from the rivers. A raised pathway has been built for tourists to walk out to the deepest part without ruining any of the living bush. There were also surveillance cameras set up to watch for people getting in the water. Who was watching is a mystery.
The Grove was liking walking into a fairytale land or scene from Lord of the Rings. The rocks were in melted shapes and the size of small mountains with trees growing out of the rock itself.
All of the land, trees and rocks are covered in green moss ranging from soft to course in texture.
The best thing in the world is Wharariki Beach. A traveler we met staying at a hotel in Pounawea suggested we go here. Thanks to his tip, it was the most memorable experience I’ve had on the south island (besides the glacier flight/hike). After driving on an unpaved road for miles we ended at a parking lot deep within a farm. This is where the walk to the beach started. The pathway led through vast farmland in between sheep grazing.
The grass farm turned to sand dunes that went on for meters with the ocean at the base. We were told if we got here at low tide there’s a chance to see seal pups. People were gathered by the shoreline next to an exposed karst from the low tide. Within the karst were baby seals playing in small pools of water protected by the force of the sea from the large karst. It was incredible to be so close to all these babies playing in their natural environment.
Their “house” was naturally beautiful and sculpted especially for the seal pups to play and be safe while their parents are out hunting food for them. There was one adult seal around just looking on and making sure they were alright. Some of the seal pups came out of the water and sniffed people’s hands or feet on the shore. There is a sign along the way that warns humans not to touch them or harass them. Seeing seals is a special thing let alone babies playing in the most beautiful lagoon naturally. We stood there in awe for forty-five minutes watching them have fun and playing.
When we returned to the car, two large peacocks were roaming around the parking lot. I invited them over for lunch and we all ate together by the car.
Hawkes Bay was one of the last lookouts we visited before leaving the South Island, and was on our way back from Golden Bay. After a short walk on a upward wooden trail we arrived to the most beautiful viewpoint. It looked like a movie set for a fairytale land.