With the car loaded up and the bikes on the back we headed for Wellington and the Bluebridge Ferry. I hadn’t been on the ferry since I was about 18 and here I was doing two crossings in as many months. Steve has never been on the ferry between the North and South Islands so was a bit anxious. It was a smooth sailing which we both enjoyed.
We spent a couple of days in Nelson with my Mum and some friends. The geographical “centre of New Zealand” allegedly lies in Nelson; on a hilltop near the centre of the city. This is the point “zero, zero” from which the first trigonometricalsurveys were started in the 1870s by John Spence Browning, the Chief Surveyor for Nelson. We climbed up there to check it out.
From this 360-degree viewpoint, the zero, zero points in neighbouring geodetic survey regions (including Wellington in the North Island) could be triangulated and a better survey of the whole of New Zealand constructed. In 1962, the ‘gravitational centre’ (including Stewart Island and some smaller islands in addition to the North and South Island, but excluding the Chathams) of New Zealand lay in a patch of unremarkable dense scrub in a forest in Spooners Range near Tapawera, 35 km (22 miles) south-west of Nelson: 41°30′S 172°50′E.
We then checked out Mapua before going to some friends for a yummy lunch of wagyu rump steak and wine. The Great Taste Trail had begun : )
We met up with the rest of the bike group at the Honest Lawyer for dinner. Natural High from Christchurch had organised this tour for us and we met our guides Steve and Paul at dinner too. We all got given a wine varietal name which reflected our personalities which created a few laughs. Steve and Paul became known as Big Cheese and Little Cheese respectively.
See below for the daily accounts of our adventure. It really was a fantastic way to explore the Nelson, Golden Bay and Tasman regions. The weather was awesome and showcased the places we went really well. It is called the Great Taste Trail due to the abundance of good food and wine in the region and it lived up to it’s name. Natural High had organised all the cafes and restaurants we visited and none of them disappointed. Our friend Andrea from Australia who joined us on the tour commented on how much she enjoyed all the different flavours.
Natural High did a great job of coming up with a tour that included biking, kayaking, sight seeing, caving and lots of eating and drinking. The variety was great and allowed us to experience the best the area had to offer.
It was a pleasure to spend 5 days with a bunch of like minded people. There was a lot of laughter and our evening fine sessions proved quite entertaining. It is amazing the stupid things people will do or say to get a fine 😂.
We then spent a couple of days at the end of the tour catching up with family, friends and their animals again before doing the road trip in reverse. Another smooth sailing and Wellington put on a stunner for our arrival.
I thoroughly recommend exploring this part of NZ and have included a bit more information courtesy of Wikipedia at the bottom of this blog about the places we visited.
To check out what Natural High has on offer go to http://www.naturalhigh.co.nz
Day 1 – Monaco to Kaiteriteri- 66km. Yes I’m back on the bike and Philip has insisted I continue with the daily “homework” so he can keep tabs on us from the cowshed. There are 18 of us doing The Great Taste Trail over Easter. We had a lovely meal at The Honest Lawyer last night before hitting the trails this morning. Nelson greeted us with a stunner. We rode towards Richmond before veering right to Mapua athough half the group missed the turnoff – not boding well 4km into a 66km ride 😳. Some parts of the trail were damaged in the recent storms so we had a couple of detours before getting to Rabbit Island. Onto the Mapua Ferry we went to Mapua for lunch at Jellyfish which was delicious and the service spirited and charming. We then rode out of Mapua towards Ruby Bay and up to the Tasman Bay lookout – a little bit of a climb but the views were worthy of the effort. We skirted around Motueka where the trail scenery is great before heading to Kaiteriteri. You ride through the mountain bike park to get to Kaiteriteri and have some different track options. Three of us did a couple of the side tracks before getting to the bottom in one piece. I then had one of my infamous involuntary lie downs on what could only be described as a bump 😳😂. A couple of kilometres and we arrived in Kaiteriteri where we had a refreshing swim and witnessed a nude male making a dash for the sea before making a dash back to his mates on the beach – obviously a dare. We are staying at the Kaiteriteri Recreation Reserve right opposite the beach 👌🏻. Enjoyed a nice meal at The Beached Whale and did a bit of post dinner dancing – not sure 🤔 if this was wise given my ever stiffening body!
Day 2 – Kaiteriteri to Takaka – 0km cycle, 8km kayak, ?km water taxi and 32km van. Today was all about the kayaking and the Abel Tasman National Park. The Abel Tasman National Park is renowned for its golden beaches, sculptured granite cliffs, and its world-famous coast track. It is NZ’s smallest National Park and was established in 1942. We left Kaiteriteri at 7am for breakfast at Hooked on Marahau which was delicious. Next stop – Abel Tasman Kayaks. We were met by our guides Travis, Marty & Jess and taken through the basics of kayaking before heading for the water. It was another lovely day and the sea conditions were perfect. We started out along the coastline looking for stingray in the clear, shallow waters to no avail. Danny spotted a shark but by the time we all managed to manoeuvre our kayaks around it was long gone. We had to settle for the seals on Adele Island which is a wildlife sanctuary and home to bellbirds, saddleback and penguins. The birdsong on the island was incredible – so different to the mainland which is devoid due to it still being home to many rodents. We finished on Observation Beach for lunch and a swim for a select few. The water taxi collected us and after a pretty choppy ride – the wind had got up – delivered us to Totaranui which is towards the top of the Abel Tasman National Park. The van met us there and we had a cuppa. Unfortunately the weather had turned and we gave the walk in the Park a miss. We did have a short walk on Pohara Beach on our way back to Takaka where we are staying tonight. We enjoyed a lovely dinner at the Brigand Cafe and Bar. Tonight we turn our clocks back as daylight savings comes to an end – you wouldn’t believe the discussions that were had about what time we’re meeting for breakfast tomorrow morning 🤔😳😬😂
Day 3 – Takaka to Collingwood – 40km cycle, 10km walking and ?km van. After a delicious breakfast at the Wholemeal Cafe in Takaka we drove to Te Waikoropupū Springs which are the largest freshwater springs in New Zealand, the largest cold water springs in the Southern Hemisphere and contain some of the clearest water ever measured. We enjoyed a bush walk to view the springs before getting on our bikes to ride to the Pupu Hydro Power Scheme which is a small hydroelectric power station. It opened in 1929 as the first power station in the region and was the first public electricity supply in Golden Bay. After closing in 1980 following damage to the generator, the power scheme was fully restored by the local Pupu Hydro Society and many volunteer groups over the course of seven years and re-opened in 1988, again supplying electricity to the national grid. We walked up to the top to view the old gold mining water race which is now reused in the power scheme. Back on the bikes to the Springs before being driven to Pakawau where we had lunch at the Old Schoolhouse Cafe. They had blue cod on the menu so it was a no brainer what I was having for lunch. Next stop was the Farewell Spit Visitors Centre where you can view the longest sandspit in New Zealand, stretching for about 26 km above sea level and another 6 km underwater. The spit runs in from west to east, and is made from fine golden sand. We then drove further on to Puponga Farm Park where we walked out to Wharariki Beach which is on the West Coast. It was very windy and the sand skims along the surface of the beach which looks cool. We saw some baby fur seals playing in a pool close to the beach. It was then time for our last ride of the day – 28km back to Collingwood. We had a bit of a head wind but it was lovely riding. It got dark about 6.30pm and with that came quite a drop in temperature. We’re staying in Collingwood tonight where we enjoyed a lovely roast lamb for dinner. Happy Easter 🐣 everyone 🚴♀️☀️😎
Day 4 – Collingwood to Kaiteriteri – 15km cycling, ?km van, caving. We enjoyed a brief walk on the beach at Collingwood before eating the best breakfast on tour at the Courthouse Cafe. We were then driven out to the start of the Heaphy Track before cycling back to Langfords Store & Post Office at Bainham. The store has been in the same family four generations since it opened in 1928. EB Langford was the initial proprietor, followed by his granddaughter Lorna who ran the store and post office for 63 years. Lorna retired in 2008 and handed the reins to EB Langford’s great granddaughter. The store is a little treasure trove and Philip I even managed to acquire some trainer wheels while I was there to help with the involuntary lie downs 😂. We then drove to the Mussel Inn for lunch. This is a very rustic place where they take environmental matters very seriously with composting toilets and many green initiatives in their brewing plant. They brew a number of beers, ciders and non alcoholic drinks. They also had their own cell phone tower – see photo 😂. The Ngarua Caves on Takaka Hill came highly recommended so we popped in there to do a tour. Our tour guide Lee was extremely enthusiastic about the caves and even sang for us so we could appreciate the wonderful acoustics. The caves are full of marble Stalactites and Stalagmites as well as Moa bones. The Takaka Hill is known as Marble Mountain as there are many of these cave systems running through the hill. Tonight we are staying at Kimi Ora Eco Resort which sits on the hill above Kaiteriteri. We enjoyed a spa before a wonderful vegetarian meal – even the carnivores were impressed. What a great place – definitely putting it on the list for a longer return visit.
Day 5 – Kaiteriteri to Monaco – 60km. After a lovely breakfast at Kimi Ora Eco Resort we drove down to the Motueka River just outside Riwaka and got saddled up. The ride along the river was very enjoyable although we had a shower not far from Woodstock. You could see the damage that Cyclone Gita had done in February with lots of slips and debris washed up. After morning tea our bikes were re loaded onto the trailer to drive to Spooners Tunnel. Spooners Rail Tunnel was built between 1891 and 1893 and is 1352 metres long. It was decommissioned in 1955 and is the longest disused Railway Tunnel in NZ. It was great riding through there in convoy. We then followed the track to the Wai-Iti Reserve past free range chicken farms, sheep and through some lovely forest. It was the best part of the trail and everyone really enjoyed it even though we had a couple of spillages – surprisingly I wasn’t one of them 😜. We had lunch in Wakefield at The Villa which was delicious. Wakefield is considered to be the oldest inland settlement in NZ and has NZ’s oldest primary school that is still in use today. The weather really warmed up for the last 22km back to Monaco through farmland and vineyards. We were back to where it all started on Good Friday. We enjoyed a drink at the Honest Lawyer before saying goodbye to everyone. It had been a fantastic 5 days with lots of food for the soul in the form of good chat and laughter and plenty of good food for the body. The Great Taste Trail certainly lived up to its name – we had the most fantastic food everywhere we went 😋👌🏻.
Nelson is the oldest city in the South Island and the second-oldest settled city in New Zealand – it was established in 1841 and was proclaimed a city by royal charter in 1858. It’s known for local arts and crafts stores, and art galleries. It’s also a popular base for nearby caving sites, vineyards and Abel Tasman National Park.
Nelson City has a population of around 50,000, making it New Zealand’s 12th most populous city and the geographical centre of New Zealand. When combined with the town of Richmond which has close to 14,000 residents, Nelson is ranked as New Zealand’s 9th largest urban area by population.
Nelson was named in honour of the Admiral Horatio Nelson who defeated both the French and Spanish fleets at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Many roads and public areas around the city are named after people and ships associated with that battle and Trafalgar Street is the main shopping axis of the city.
Nelson’s Māori name, Whakatū, means ‘build’, ‘raise’, or ‘establish’.
In an article to The Colonist newspaper on 16 July 1867, Francis Stevens described Nelson as “The Naples of the Southern Hemisphere“. Today, Nelson has the nicknames of “Sunny Nelson” due to its high sunshine hours per year or the “Top of the South” because of its geographic location.
Abel Tasman National Park
Abel Tasman National Park is a New Zealand national park located between Golden Bay and Tasman Bay at the north end of the South Island. It is named after Abel Tasman, who in 1642 became the first European explorer to sight New Zealand and who anchored nearby in Golden Bay.
The park was opened on the 18 December 1942 to mark the 300th anniversary of Abel Tasman’s visit. Those in attendance at the opening ceremony at Tarakohe included Charles van der Plas, as personal representative of the Netherlands’ Queen, Wilhelmina. The Queen was made Patron of the park.
The idea for the park had been under consideration since June 1938. The Crown set aside 15,225 hectares (37,622 acres), comprising 8,900 hectares (21,900 acres) of proposed state forest, 5,809 hectares (14,354 acres) of Crown land and 554 hectares (1,368 acres) of other reserve land for the national park. The Golden Bay Cement Company donated the land where the memorial plaque was sited. The area’s primary historic interest was the visit of Tasman in 1642, D’Urville in 1827, and the New Zealand Company barques Whitby and Will Watch, and brig Arrow in 1841. The site was also of significant botanical interest.
The Abel Tasman Coast Track is a popular tramping track that follows the coastline and is one of the Department of Conservation’s Great Walks; the Abel Tasman Inland Track is less frequented. Other walks in the park, such as the Wainui Falls Track are considered ‘short walks’.
Takaka is a small town situated at the southeastern end of Golden Bay, at the northern end of New Zealand‘s South Island, located on the lower reaches of the Takaka River. It lies at the start of the winding road which follows the river valley before climbing over Takaka Hill, linking Golden Bay with the more populated coast of Tasman Bay to the southeast.
During the period, 1853 to 1876, Takaka was administrated as part of the Nelson Province.
Farming, sawmilling, limestone quarrying and tourism are major local industries. The area around Takaka is mineral-rich, with gold, iron ore, copper, silver and asbestos all found locally, although not all in commercially viable amounts. The area around Takaka Hill is also notable for its cave systems, with New Zealand’s deepest vertical shaft, Harwood’s Hole located nearby. There is also a large Fonterra dairy factory located in the township of Takaka.
Takaka and Golden Bay are also known for rock climbing, the most area being Paynes Ford. This area is situated about 20 minutes walk from Takaka and has over 200 bolted climbs. The most famous climb is 1080 and the letter G because of its unique “no-hands-rest” at the top and its views of Golden Bay.
The town is also known for Te Waikoropupu Springs (colloquially known as Pupu Springs), which holds the world record for fresh water clarity.
Golden Bay / Mohua is a shallow, paraboloid shaped bay in New Zealand, near the northern tip of the South Island. An arm of the Tasman Sea, the bay lies northwest of Tasman Bay and Cook Strait. It is protected in the north by Farewell Spit, a 26 km long arm of fine golden sand which is the country’s longest sandspit. The Aorere and Takaka Rivers flow into the bay from the south.
The west and northern regions of the bay are largely unpopulated. Along its southern coast are the towns of Takaka and Collingwood, and also the Abel Tasman National Park. Separation Point, the natural boundary between Golden and Tasman Bays is situated within the park.
It is known for being a popular tourist destination, because of its good weather and relaxed, friendly lifestyle. Its beaches like Tata Beach are popular locations for retirees and holiday-homes.
Collingwood is a town in the north-west corner of the South Island of New Zealand along Golden Bay. The town is an ecotourism destination due to its proximity to Kahurangi National Park and Farewell Spit Nature Reserve.
The town was originally named Gibbstown after the local settler and politician William Gibbs (1817–1897), who arrived in the area in 1851. The settlement was later renamed Collingwood after Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood, Lord Nelson‘s second-in-command at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
Following the discovery of payable gold deposits in the Aorere Valley in 1856 the town’s population surged and the suggestion was made that Collingwood should become New Zealand’s capital. In 1864, three Australian commissioners were tasked with recommending a more central location for the capital and they did visit Golden Bay (then still known as Massacre Bay) but their recommendation was for Wellington. The town has been damaged by fire several times, being almost destroyed in 1904.
The Heaphy Track
The Heaphy Track is a popular tramping track in the north west of the South Island of New Zealand. It is located within the Kahurangi National Park and classified as one of New Zealand’s nine Great Walks by the Department of Conservation. Named after Charles Heaphy, the track is 78.4 kilometres (48.7 mi) long and is usually walked in four or five days. The track runs from Kohaihai, north of Karamea on the northern west coast of the South Island to the upper valley of the Aorere River, inland from Golden Bay.
First settled in about 1843, it was originally called Pitfure. However the name was soon changed to Wakefield, and it is believed to have been named after the birthplace of one of its original settlers, who was from Wakefield in Yorkshire. It is often assumed that the settlement was named after Captain Arthur Wakefield, who led the expedition that first established Nelson City and Province. Arthur Wakefield was killed in the Wairau Affray and it is assumed that the event has helped confirm the change of name from Pitfure to Wakefield.
Wakefield is notable for Wakefield Primary School, the oldest school in continuous usage in New Zealand. It was set up in 1843 by Mary Ann Baigent, the wife of Edward Baigent. St John’s Church in Edward Street, built in 1846, is New Zealand’s second oldest surviving church. It is registered by Heritage New Zealand as a Category I heritage structure, with registration number 40.