07 November 2014

Golden Bay Delights {Pupu Springs, Labryinth Rocks, Dolphins and Wainui Falls}

With only two full days in the Golden Bay region it was a bit hard to know where to start to make the most of our time, but make the most of it we certainly did! We headed out early via Collingwood for a takeaway coffee – first stop Pupu Springs. Pupu Springs is famous for having crystal clear water known as optically pure - at 63m it’s almost the clearest in the world - only beaten by the Blue Lake in Nelson Lakes and somewhere in the Antarctic!


One thing that we couldn’t believe on the whole holiday was the lack of PEOPLE. Being school holidays we were sure that we could expect holidaymakers galore at tourist spots, but this was just not the case. Case in point – when we arrived at Pupu Springs there was 1 other car in the carpark, at Labryinth Rocks there was maybe 2, and the same at Wainui Falls. When we did our walk at Farewell Spit the following day (more on that later) we were the ONLY car there – and had to actually open the farm gate to even get to the car park. We really did feel as if we had the whole place to ourselves which added to the enjoyment. I imagine it could be a LOT busier in summer here so there’s a tip for you – travel off season like we did and you really will experience getting away from it all without the crowds but still have amazing warm weather AND snow-capped mountains!

Anyway back to Pupu Springs – the loop walk meanders along the river for about 20 minutes before you reach the main spring – it is well worth the visit and a sight to behold but we felt that Blue Spring in Putaruru where we walked at Christmas more than matched its beauty because of the length of time you walk along the river there for.

After this, we headed to Labryinth Rocks – a fun place for kids to explore. It’s hard to describe and do it justice with photos but it’s basically a large area of limestone rocks with all sorts of nooks and crannies making alleyways and tunnels with kids toys (think McDonald Happy Meal type toys) dotted around the place for the kids to spot – ours were kept well entertained for the hour we were there. And best of all it’s free!


We had a bit of a hunger on by this stage so headed to Tata beach for lunch which is further south around the Bay. We’d thought about stopping in Pohara, then Ligar Bay before finally settling on a lovely picnic table down by Tata beach to eat our lunch. There were a few people out on kayaks in the water but the biggest buzz of the day was seeing a whole pod of dolphins come and play in the water for about half an hour – so unexpected and so spectacular – the first time I have ever seen them do that so close. And even more amazing that we'd decided to stop here - if we had stopped at the earlier bays we would have missed the show.

Reluctantly tearing ourselves away, we headed round another bay to the start of the Wainui Falls track. I was a little misapprehensive after seeing a sign saying to be careful of the 4 large slips on the track, but we set off anyway to try our luck. The walk is about half an hour each way with a heart-stopping, jaw-dropping swingbridge up near the falls. I’d seen pictures of the walk in the DOC brochure but hadn’t quite appreciated that this was a maximum 1 load kind of affair.





 Mark took Mylo gingerly over, then Noah braved the bridge on his own, singing ‘Everything is awesome’ in his head for encouragement while I followed along last of all - heart firmly in mouth! It wasn’t too long after making it across that we came across the falls – a very impressive amount of water tumbling over rapidly creating a rainbow spray at the bottom of the pools.  

On the way back Mylo had a sudden attack of needing that-kind-of-toilet which resulted in Mark having to run most of the way carrying him to make it back to the loo by the carpark in time!

We all needed a drink after this as the day turned out very warm – I was wondering why on EARTH I’d worn jeans but luckily could strip down to a singlet top on top - so we stopped in at Takaka to get a 'longest shake in town'. Mylo didn't want one so we let him have a small Coke Zero - not thinking too much about the effect this would have on him. Hilarious - he was high as kite for the rest of the afternoon/evening - not something we will be doing again in a hurry other than for the pure entertainment value!

Once we got home, we walked (A LONG WAY) out to the sea through all the pools of water left behind at low tide – grimacing here and there at walking barefoot over some very shelly areas and the kids had a ball splashing in the calm water – let’s not forget it was still only mid Spring but they declared it to be plenty warm enough!


That night we tried out the only restaurant for miles around at the Old School CafĂ© in Pakawau – it was the local school until it closed down in 1986. The boys were rather enamoured by the resident cat – Chai, one of the biggest friendliest tabbies I’ve ever seen, and I enjoyed a plate of whitebait fritters – I can’t tell you the last time I ate them, and as we’d seen so many whitebaiters along the rivers on our travels that day I figured when in Rome….!

On our last day in the Bay, we had grand plans to see Farewell Spit, Whararaki Beach and try our hand at kayaking.....all that to come in the next post!

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