New Zealand Destinations : Golden Bay
The next leg of our journey took us from Punakaiki to the Golden Bay in the far north of South Island. During this time, a complex low pressure system was hanging around all of New Zealand resulting in heavy rains. This meant that our 6 hour drive literally displayed allfour seasons. The drive itself was beautiful , especially the Buller Gorge section inland from Westport and the area around Murchison for its fall colours. Our final destination was Collingwood, the northernmost town of sorts before the tip of South Island. There are plenty of houses for accommodation and fortuitously, due to a mixup, we ended up in ‘Seabird Cottage’ which was perfect for our needs. Here are some tips for the areas we explored.
Wharariki Beach. This is a magnificent area to explore and I would recommend more than 1 trip to the area in order to do some of the walks. Our main focus was the Archway islands. Photographically these are some pointers. A low tide is very useful as the beach is extremely flat. This means the islands will look extremely distant if photographed from the high tide line. If you want to include the sun in compositions, it is useful to visit when the sunset is at its most northerly aspect , ie. in winter. If you want no sun, then it is useful to visit when the sunset is at its most southerly (summer). The timing of our visit was kind of in between which made things difficult and next to impossible in the middle of the day when then sun hovers almost directly above the islands.
Aorere Valley : This picturesque valley has numerous locations which are worth exploring. We didn’t get to the goldfields as the road became far too waterlogged for our wagon to traverse. At this road’s end is the start to the Heaphy Track, a track I would like to do at some point in the future.
Beaches in general: The tide makes an enormous difference to the appearance of the beaches and most are probably more photogenic at low tide when pools and rivulets form. At high tide, there is often no walking beach in most areas. Unfortunately high tide coincided with dawns and sunsets during our stay meaning that we couldn’t take advantage of this easily.
Other areas we visited included the beautiful Wainui Falls ; take care on the trail though as a few large slips have made some areas of the walk a little more ‘exciting’. The drive from Takaka to Wainui is littered with photographic opportunities, particularly at a low-ish tide. Ligar Beach looks among the best of them. Takaka itself is a town with large supermarkets, cafeterias and a place called ‘Dangerous Kitchen’ which serves a killer meat lovers pizza! Just north of Takaka are some beautiful hot springs with pristine waters and amazing blues and greens reminiscent of Jiuzhaigou in China.
We only have 2 more destinations left in New Zealand on this trip! Next update will be of our time around Nelson Lakes National Park. Until then!