Backpacking Pensioners travel blog

Takaka Hill overlooking the fruit valley

Marble rocks on 'Marble Mountain'; Takaka Hill

Takaka main street

One of Takaka's murals


This morning we awoke late and there was no time for Sylvia to practice the jumps and turns on the camp BMX track; life can be a bitch. It could have been a good test for her new padded seat; and the old one. Actually I don’t think she could have concentrated long enough to ride the bike due to the need to keep scratching the sand fly bites we got when in the last lot of thermal pools. I think I would back the sand flies against the Scottish Midge, and that’s saying something.

Today is Friday and the weather should be fine so we are in for a good scenic drive. The weekend will not be good weather, especially Saturday when the whole of New Zealand will be very wet, much to the relief of the farmers. We drove along the B road on the west side of the river towards Mutueka with the Arthur Range of hills on our left; it was easy to see which one was Mount Arthur. When we came to a sign stating Mt Arthur 12K, (7 ½ miles), we took the narrow gravel road to have a look at the mountain. To our disappointment after covering the slow miles, at the end of the gravel road a sign stated the start of Mt Arthur walk was a further 6 miles along a track only fit for confident drivers of four wheel drive vehicles. Feeling cheated we brewed coffee and then drove back. Ah well, I’m sure this road was another bit of NZ we had always wanted to see.

As we neared the coast we passed by orchards and bought from a road side stall a bag of pears, a bag of apples which have been crossed with pears, and a bag of plums. We joined SH 60 at the north end of Mutueka and drove west over the biggest hill yet. I know I have said that before but this one, Takaka Hill, (known as Marble Mountain), has the highest and most winding road we have driven on. Rising from sea level we drove the whole 2,600 foot high hill which separates Golden Bay from Tasman Bay. Part way up the road we stopped and took photographs and near the top was a superb pull in and ten minute walk to Hawkes Lookout. From here we could view Riwaka River, Tasman Bay, the Richmond Range and Kahurangi National Park; behind us the valley seemed full of ripening fruit.

Near the top of Takaka Hill was a rough track to our right leading down to some ‘tourist caves’ and we went to investigate. It was 3.10pm and a notice stated that the guide was ‘on his own’ and the coffee and gift shop was shut; the guide would be back for the last tour of the day at 4pm. As the only roadway back for us is over this hill, we decided to visit the caves on our return. Soon we had crossed the top and was in a steep and winding descent towards the town of Takaka which proved to be a thriving and nice town. At the west end is the Riverside Inn which takes in backpackers and allows members of the Motorhome Club to park on the small field behind the property.

In the bar we were told there was no charge for the camp site so it was only fair that we made the acquaintance of the owners and a purchase from the bar. During the night there was heavy rain and in the morning I opened the door to find there was a deep puddle by the step. Stepping across the water my feet sank into 18 inch of soggy grass. It is nice to know I can still make my wife laugh.

As we are only able to put one map reference per blog entry I will close at this point and continue on the next entry.

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