Wheel alignment

Friday, 24 March 2017

Trippin' to the Top of the South - pt 2

After the time spent mooching around in Nelson described in part 1, it was time to head towards Golden Bay.  A quick stop in Mapua for lunch which was once a sleepy village but has transformed itself with nice cafes and shops with an arty theme.  We were quite taken with the Mapua ferry which runs between the village and nearby Rabbit Island.  More like box than boat.

Mapua ferry dropping schoolkids off in front of the local houses

To get to Golden Bay by road, one has to negotiate the Takaka Hill.  Nirvana on a bike but hard work in an SUV and tough on those with a queasy stomach.  Approximately 35 km of continuous twisties rising to around 800 metres above sea level.  With the Abel Tasman National Park mountains on one side of the valley and the Kahurangi National Park mountains on the other, the descent towards Takaka is breathtaking.

The descent towards Takaka

Kahurangi National Park mountains

The area is known for its alternative lifestyle community and a strong focus on the arts.  Dreadlocks are common, as is hippy type clothing.  Many Germans make a pilgrimage here, probably due to a strong German presence which began in the 1800's to avoid Lutheran persecution in their homeland.  

We were heading for the small beach settlement of Pohara.  Jennie and I were last there in 2001 and we had booked in at a very special place we stayed at back then - Sans Souci Inn . Owners Vera and Reto Balzer built it using adobe/straw construction, grass-covered roofs and other ecological features, including a communal bathroom and composting toilets!  The latter features are really no big deal and add to the utter charm of the place.  It only has 7 bedrooms so there's a very strong personal touch. They even have a heritage orchard of non-hybridised fruit and the guests may help themselves. Quirky and utterly charming - we loved it to bits the first time and nothing has changed. Very glad we made a return visit!

Schist-covered walkways to the rooms

Jennie chilling at our adobe unit - grapes handily in reach!

Gorgeous dining room

Communal bathroom with composting toilets!

Grass roofs and solar water heating panels

The following day, we went exploring.  Takaka is a delight and as it was market day, it was a good opportunity to take in the sights.

Wall mural - says it all really!

One of the many colourful eateries catering for all tastes

Coffee and artisan bread anyone?

Hippy caravan pizzeria

Fresh Kombucha sold here

Hippy chic?

Local 4x4 for fording rivers - not your city slicker type!

Pohara area - utter tranquility

Arty shot from the Abel Tasman memorial - seems to be suspended in the air!

Tata beach area - virtually deserted

Rustic holiday home - Pohara inlet

Maori entranceway to the Abel Tasman track - one of NZ's nine Great Walks

Australasian Harrier Hawk looking for prey

3-masted schooner undergoing maintenance in the Pohara marina 

Sometimes, being at the bottom of the world in NZ seems a long way from all the action and other cultures but with all the current unrest in the world, there's a lot to be thankful for its isolation. Similarly, a country roughly the size of the UK but with only 4.5 million people means that outside the big cities, there's room to breathe and that's what makes it a motorcycling paradise.  The next post covers our visit to a very special place!


  1. Great pics Geoff! I love it over that side of the hill!

    1. Thanks Andrew, pretty special, isn't it? Would have gone past your sister's holiday place on the final part of the trip which I'll cover in the next post. Next time, it's the bike as my mode of transport!!!!

  2. What a lovely getaway place. I would want to stay at the Sans Souci immediately.

  3. Thanks Sonja. You would have been right at home! It was a United Nations of guests. The people next to us were from southern Germany and there were Italians and Spanish too.

  4. Fantastic pics yet again Geoff. I loved the Takaka Hill, what a great road, not so much fun in the car but still fun. The views are nice from the lookout.
    Nice find with the accommodation.

  5. Thanks Steve, I just have to get down there on the bike! Beautiful area of the country but the location off the beaten track requires a deliberate effort to get there.