Takaka to Collingwood Road Trip

Te Waikoropupu Springs

In the morning we enjoy a light breakfast before taking a leisurely stroll around the friendly township of Takaka, perusing its array of quirky craft studios and galleries, and small boutique village stores, before driving to the Waikoropupu Springs, the clearest freshwater springs in the world.

“Wow,” says Bob, gazing at the iridescent blue and green springs which sparkle like polished paua, “They’re beautiful!” The springs rise through thick layers of marbled rock and discharge around 14,000 litres of water per second. We hike around the edge of the pools passing water milfoil, forget-me-nots and rushes on a track that leads to various viewing platforms. There are several informative display boards en route and we learn that the springs are home to freshwater snails, long finned eels and koura (freshwater crayfish). “Look,” says Bob, “they were once used by the Maori for ceremonial blessings.”

We spend time soaking up the peaceful atmosphere then drive through the countryside to the Mussel Inn Bush Café, a country pub selling local food and drink. We join others on the wide, shady verandah screened by vines of hops, and relish every mouthful of the thick mussel chowder we’re served, washing it down with an organic beer that is brewed onsite.

Bob pops inside to settle our account and returns with an amazed look on his face, “There’s a bounty for possum tails,” he says incredulously, obviously recalling all the squashed possums we’ve seen on the road during our circumnavigation of NZ. “Every tail earns a pint on the house and if you bring in a rat’s tail, you’ll get a chocolate fish!”

Bob marvels at the locals’ endorsement of strong environmental principles all the way to Tukurua, where we leave State Highway 60 and follow a back street lined with roadside stalls. We stop to admire pottery at Flax Gully and fragrant handcrafted candles at Living Light Candles, before driving to the beach where we step upon aureate sands to delight in the sparkling arch of Golden Bay.

Then we continue on to Collingwood and check into a local B&B. Later, at our host’s suggestion, we climb the hill to St Cuthbert’s, a tiny Anglican church built in 1873 for a bird’s eye view of this tiny town. Below, the 1905 Courthouse - now a popular café - buzzes with patrons and a steady stream of visitors stop to inspect the historic displays housed in the town’s tiny museum.

After booking a place aboard Paddy Gillooly’s famous Original Farewell Spit Safari for the following morning, we pay a visit to Rosy Glow Chocolates. Here we find a delicious array of handcrafted confectionery and after choosing a (rather large) selection we drive inland to Rockville’s Te Anaroa Caves, munching on chocolates as we go. At the caves we join a half hour guided tour to see its highlights, including beautiful bacon drapes, straws and columns, as well as fossilised scallop shells, gypsum flowers and penguin bones. Bob even spots a signature by WD Lash dating back to 1884.

When we emerge the light is beginning to fade and so we return to the Courthouse Café in Collingwood where we have a dinner of fresh pan fried groper with a roasted red pepper and basil sauce, before turning in.