Takaka, and back to Marlborough

We woke up in Redwood Valley, and spent an hour enjoying the view. Captain was fascinated by all the bird activity in the garden right outside our window. We went out for breakfast on the Mapua wharf, which was not really notable except that the pedestrian path, running through a corridor of restaurants with outdoor seating and liquor licenses, is an alcohol free zone. Bet that’s fun to enforce!

Our original plan was to head into Abel Tasman park. There’s a three-day walking loop, obviously out of the question with Captain not allowed in, but we’d been told that a day hike in from either end was worthwhile. Jazz’s ankle was feeling better, but maybe not full day hike better, and between that and some trail closures due to flooding, we opted to hit some easier inland spots instead. First up, the Hawkes Lookout walk, an impromptu stop along the highway as we passed over Takaka Hill. Spotted along the road: “Smurfs are people too”. This was our second Smurf-related drive-by, and we were left full of unanswered questions.

Our intended destination was Te Waikoropupu Springs, renowned for having the second-clearest water in the world. Check out the street signs: that’s right, the clear water comes from Pu Pu Springs. The water was, indeed, very clear, though we wished we’d come at a different time of day; the sun was across the pond from all the areas we were allowed to walk into, creating a lot of glare. We wished we’d brought the drone, not that we would have been allowed to fly it; we’re pretty sure that the best shots on Instagram were shot on drones. Still, we had another laugh about how much energy has gone into preparing this country for road-trippers. Excellent signs, flat manicured trails with boardwalks, and a fifteen minute walking loop with a big glass information pavilion out front. This is a culturally significant pond.

We stopped for a very pleasant lunch at Dada Manifesto in Takaka. We couldn’t resist the cocktail menu, with its smoky whisky sour, and the food was also excellent.

The staff there pointed us towards the Grove Scenic Reserve, which provided another pleasant walk in the woods and a pleasant view out over the Golden Bay. Most notable, the huge split rock passages, with roots of the canopy trees crawling and tangling down the cliff faces.

On the way back over the hill, traffic on the one road over the pass came to a complete stop. Word percolated back along the queue that there had been an accident involving a motorcycle, and that a helicopter was en route for the injured rider. Yikes! We found later that the motorcycle hit Goose – the boat on the back of this trailer. Too soon, but that guy got goosed. Or goosed Goose.

Despite the excellent roads, thorough signage, strict enforcement, and excessive road cones, we see accidents here way more often than we would expect based on the population. (Except on the single-lane bridges.) It’s probably not coincidence that we also see tons of drivers crossing the center line and generally driving like it’s their first time.

In the evening, we went into Nelson to meet up with Al and Lucinda from Ten Gauge, who we hadn’t seen since leaving Savai’i in Samoa. We tasted some beers at the local converted church, and then had excellent Indian food and talked politics.

We reluctantly left our gorgeous garden view in the morning, and drove over the last mountain pass back to Marlborough. There, we took Captain on an Instagram tour of several lovely wineries. Framingham had a lovely Italian-style courtyard-garden. Scott served a delicious lunch and had a self-service tasting room. And Whitehaven was super friendly and excited to have Captain there, as were the dozen tourists who swarmed him to the point where none of them could take his picture without someone else’s camera in the background. By dinner time, he was pretty much out of juice, so we left him to sleep in the hotel and went back to the beer garden that we’d rejected on our way south. Verdict: they have tasters!

Yet again, we went back to a hotel with a huge (if much less scenic) bathtub, and we filled it with salts and had a nice long soak. It turned out that scented salts did not go well with our bottle of wine, which is probably for the best as it kept us from drinking in the tub and getting completely dehydrated.

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