Top of the South

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Day 26   Collingwood – Cape Farewell – Nelson Lakes      

Today was going to be another one of those days with a lot of driving involved but I wanted to see a few things first. I had planned to go out on a tour of Farewell Spit but after looking at the weather yesterday I decided not to book the trip. Rain and thunderstorms all day was forecasted but when I wake up, there’s no rain in sight only a few clouds. After packing up at the campground and having a chat with the camp owner I decided to head to the north most part of the South Island.

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30minutes drive out of Collingwood, is Wharariki Beach, Archway Islands and Cape Farewell, the northern tip of the South Island. Once there I decide to take a short hike across farm land to get to the far end of Wharariki Beach. Walking amongst sheep along the track, grassy hills on my left, a couple of small lakes and native bush on my right, I could hear the waves breaking just on the other side on the trees but couldn’t quite see anything. I climb over a few fences and head down the track through the bush and pop out at this spectacular beach. The beach is full with these massive rock formations that have carved by the sea over many years and looks out to the Archway Islands, which I assume got its name from the great big hole or archway in the side on the rocks. As I head down the beach I notice lots of caves, big enough to walk into , some even go through to the other side of the rock. Another great picturesque spot that I wasn’t expecting

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Since it was low tide I head along the beach to the carpark, as I get near the end of the beach I notice a few people standing around on top of some rocks, so I go over to see what they are up to. It was pretty obvious when I got close, Seals, around a dozen small cubs playing around in some rock pools just a few meters away and a few adults up higher on the rock face. This was my highlight of the day, I probably spent a good hour just taking photos and watching these cubs swimming around, jumping, diving and playing around with each other, another unexpected part of the day but was really cool to see.

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After finally pulling myself away from the playful creatures I head back to the car and drive 5 minutes back down the road and up to Cape Farewell lookout. Now I can say I’ve been to the northern most part of the South Island. Up on top of the cliffs looking out to the Tasman Sea, waves crashing on the rocks below. I take a little walk further around the cliffs to the highest point and get to see Farewell spit in the distance. By now the water filled clouds had started to role in and I could hear some thunder out to sea, so I head back to the shelter of the Van.

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Deciding since it’s raining and can’t see much, ill head down to the Nelson Lakes 3 hours south of here and hope the weather clears tomorrow so I can have a look around. I head back down SH60 to Takaka, the rain has stopped momentarily so I head out to Anatoki Salmon fishing farm. Here you can go fishing for a Chinook Salmon and have it smoked before eating it in their café or get it wrapped and sealed to take it home with you. Or you can go next door where they have a whole lot of friendly farm animals and feed Eels in the river. As I was running out of time to get to my destination for the night I decided that feeding the Eels was a bit Quicker. You buy a little packet of food from the Café and head down to the river. At first I, couldn’t see any but once I looked under a few rocks they started appearing, after throwing out some food and a few eels splashing about, even more appeared out from the depths of the river. There must have been a dozen of them, all shapes and sizes. Maggi McCallum started feeding them just over 100 years ago, in the same spot, and her family has kept on doing it through the years and now the Eels are quite tame, coming right up to you.

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After feeding the slippery, slimy creatures I carry on down to Motueka and refuel before taking the Motueka Valley Highway. Passing through Sheep, Hops and a few cattle farms then into the bush of the Kahurangi National Park on SH6. It rained the whole way with fog in parts. Was glad to make the Carpark camping spot for the night, pretty tied by now so I had an early night with fingers crossed for some fine weather tomorrow, so I can explore the Lakes.

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