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Previous Day: Day 31 – Murchison to Golden Bay

Day 32 – Golden Bay

We awoke at 7:00 (ish) to the most beautiful sunrise from our window. This has to be one of the huge advantages of Shambhala – the location. Forget the dodgy plumbing and lack of cooking facilities – the location is paradise! After getting up late (the place is not meant for hurrying) and a healthy breakfast of strawberries, muesli and yoghurt (the place gets to you – cooking bacon just wouldn’t go with the ambience) we headed north.


Collingwood is the last (and only) major settlement on the road leading to Farewell Spit, at the far north of South Island. It’s a nice little town. There is a cafe called ‘The Courthouse’ which is – you’ve guesses – in the old courthouse!! Just down the road is another cafe that does takeaways, a tavern that does reasonably priced meals, and a supermarket that doesn’t appear to have a lot in it. We had a very nice coffee and muffin in the ‘Courthouse Cafe’ and eyed up the takeaway for later.

Farewell Spit

I approached this part of the journey with trepidation. I had always considered that the ‘real’ journey started at Karamea, and ended at Farewell Spit. So this was the end of the journey!

Farewell Spit is a long sand-dune that stretches from the top end of South Island eastwards. It is xxx km long. Most vehicles can’t go on the spit, but there are two companies that can take 4WD vehicles along it. Originally we planned to take a tour with one of them – but the average price was $100 NZD each, which seemed a bit steep for a drive along the beach. So we decided to go for a walk instead. This was a good choice – it’s a flat walk from the bottom car park (a consideration with Arts dicky ticker), along the inner part of the spit, then across to the outer part.

The two coasts are very different. The inner side is very calm, and full of seabirds – especially black swans, but also other waders (we’ll have to look them up!). The outer side is more dramatic – silver sand, waves and sanddunes.

You can continue along the 3rd and 4th side of a square back to the car park, but we weren’t sure about the hills in between so we returned the way we had come. This proved to be a good choice. By the time we returned the tide had gone out. And it was totally different. There was a wide expanse of mud and weed, and (dare I ay it?) it was actually quite ugly….

Other wildlife spotted on our trip were various birds (don’t ask us the names – we’re no twitchers), huge grasshoppers, dragonflies, and a very large hare (who hopped away before we got the camera out).

There was a good cafe at the top car park that server cider from the Mussel Inn. (see more about the Mussel Inn later)… On the way back we stopped at Collingwood for some superb takeaway Blue Cod and chips at the cafe. We also made the local youth very happy by leaving them our remaining chips – they are obviously easily pleased!!!

Shambhala (again)

Back at base, we crashed out for a while. Then Art took the lapbook down to the main house and I went for a stroll in the grounds. These grounds are beautiful, and full of surprises. Halfway down the hill is a ‘tea house’ and a statue of a Hindu god. The path leads down to the cliff-top then straight onto the beach. And this beach felt like home! (or more to the point, St Audries Bay in Somerset but with blue sea). There is a limestone pavement, and rock pools. Wandering back, you come across hidden shacks that appear to be the permanent residences of people, It’s very soothing…. (don’t think we’ll make the meditation again though)

Our Room

The Mussel Inn (again)

Tonight we had a litre bottle of their ‘house Pinot Noir’ – a bargain at $21. Just as well Shambhala was such a short distance away! No steak tonight though – afte all that fish and chips it was just a small nachos with beans and sour cream.

Next Day: Day 33 – Golden Bay to Nelson

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terris_travelogue/south_island/day_32.txt · Last modified: 2010/11/10 20:13 by art
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