Goodbye Golden Bay

Well, much to our own surprise: we have managed to leave Takaka. A mere two months after first arriving in Golden Bay, we have said goodbye to our new friends, the most awesome climbing crag in New Zealand and the numerous long-haired hippies and drove our home over the hill to explore a new area: the wild West Coast.  

So since the last blog, I have been to Nelson for a few days. I had a lovely time hanging out with Kristel, Wouter and their bloody cute kids before Thomas came over from Takaka. We parked up the van in town and decided to make the most of the “big city” by going out for dinner, which we hadn’t done in ages (we’re really good in sticking to our budget and not spending too much on luxuries like going out for dinner).

The next day, we did some shopping in town, went out for lunch (very dangerous being walking distance from a city!) and in the afternoon and evening I went to the Marchfest beer festival, where I had to work a few hours pouring beers before being able to hang out and try some of the (really nice) craft beers on tap. Since I had a hike planned the next day, I came home at a very reasonable time, but then Thomas convinced me to walk into town for one last beer and we didn’t make it to bed before 2am.. (as I said, oh the dangers of being able to walk into town). But, we had a great night and made some nice new friends!

The next day we woke slightly later than the original plan and headed back to Takaka. Thomas dropped me and Dan off at the start of our hike, but unfortunately for me my new hiking shoes did not work out well, so I turned around and stayed with Thomas for another night (who was still working at our previous WWOOF hosts) before returning to the hike the next morning, in my old, comfortable, holey hiking boots. I met up with Dan at the hut around 2pm, and he convinced me to continue on up and spend the night camping on the mountain tops. Oh, how often I have had the thought “if only we had stayed at the hut” within the next 24 hours, as we woke up to a LOT of rain. By the time we made our way back down the hill, the river we had crossed with a simple step less than a day ago was now a roaring, churning, pounding, brown mess of a river. Yep, we were stuck and NOT on the side of the river with the hut, which had a fire, and a hot shower, and books and magazines…

The views from the top before the weather turned bad

Since it was still raining, we set up our tents and changed into dry gear. The rest of the day was spent sitting, lying, sleeping and trying to not eat too much food as we had no idea for how long we would be stuck there. Every so often, the weather seemed to clear, only for it to start raining again shortly after. During the night, it poured down again and we could hear the river picking up in noise again, not a good sign! And indeed, the next morning it looked like we would be stuck for another day at least. I decided to walk back up the hill (a 900m climb) to see if I could get any phone reception at the top, but had no luck whatsoever. When I returned, Dan decided to try his luck in coming up with a way to cross the river. He managed to build a structure we could hold on to while crossing the river in waist-deep water, very scary but we made it to the other side! We still had a long walk out but we were just so happy to be walking again and managed to be on our way out. When we reached the road, Thomas was kind enough to pick us up and we headed straight to town to have beers and pizza! What an adventure, one to remember for sure!

Home for 27 hours (doesn’t look too bad now but boy was it wet)

The next day, Thomas and I moved out of the mudbrick cottage in which we had lived for a month and back into the van. We had a lovely farewell dinner with our WWOOF hosts, who are such nice people, we really had such a good time with them these last four weeks! After a night in the van on their drive, we were back at the free campsite in Takaka and filled the day with things like doing remote work, picking up groceries and going for a bike ride. We also spent a day walking and kayaking with Wouter and Kristel and their family, as they were visiting for the weekend. Thomas had a go at picking mussels for dinner, but unfortunately only a few turned out to be edible, and most had little crabs inside the mussels, which looked a bit weird but is very normal apparently.

Oh, the climbing in Takaka was so good!

Our very last two days in Takaka were dedicated to climbing at Paynes Ford, as we had a climbing buddy from Auckland coming over to join us on a little climbing trip. For two days, we climbed our asses off (or more accurately, the skin on our fingertips), fuelled by craft beer and blue cheese, knowing that this would be our last climbing session in the area for a while. And while it broke Thomas his heart to leave Paynes and his yet unclimbed grade 25 climbing project behind, we were on our way to the infamous climbing cliffs of Charleston on the wet, wild (and covered with sandflies) West Coast!

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