1. 2. Day 8: Nelson Golden Bay Nelson | Our Travelling Experiences – With Cas & The Sanman

Day 8: Nelson Golden Bay Nelson


Nelson city is home to a fascinating community of beach, bush and art lovers. I should point out that the NELSON, GOLDEN BAY AND MARLBOROUGH areas, are extremely popular holiday regions, for families and those wishing to get away from the city life, for a few weeks. It’s said to be a standing joke that 1/2 of CANTERBURY is said to migrate to the NELSON/MARLBOROUGH region over CHRISTMAS. In some instances the camping grounds, throughout the NELSON/GOLDEN BAY area are mostly booked out from the previous year. From BOXING DAY on, moving in these areas becomes a logistical nightmare.

JUST FOR THE RECORD: The NELSON BAY region, comprises of two unitary authorities – NELSON CITY administered by the NELSON CITY COUNCIL and THE TASMAN DISTRICT administered by the TASMAN DISTRICT COUNCIL, based in RICMOND. Populations estimated for the two areas in 2012, NELSON 46,000 and TASMAN BAY 48,500. NELSON received its name in honour of the ADMIRAL HORATIO NELSON, who defeated both the French and Spanish fleets at the BATTLE of TRAFALGAR in 1805. Many of the roads and public areas around the city are named after people and ships associated with that battle. TRAFALGAR STREET is the main shopping axis of the city – inhabitants of Nelson are often referred to as “NELSONIANS”.

The main street if Richmond.

The main street if Richmond.

We left the motel round 9am and made our way out to RICHMOND to have a look at the mall and shopping area, as I hadn’t seen it in 25 years.  Yes, it had certainly grown and was probably twice the size to when I knew it as. RICHMOND is a service centre for the surrounding farms, orchards and vineyards of the WAIMEA PLAINS. Pip fruit and berries are predominantly grown in the region, as well as hops for the beer industry. We made our way to one of the old tearooms, located in the main street, which I use to frequent frequently, in the past, and got some sandwiches with a coffee, as we skipped breaky in the motel, needless to say they were really tasty. Around 10.30am (after browsing through the RICHMOND MALL) we headed north, taking the coastal road up to MOTUEKA.This corridor between RICHMOND and MOTUEKA is a haven for crafts/artisans and fruits, especially apples. Surprizingly, the road-side stalls are still there, (with the honesty boxes) where farmers sell fresh gown fruits & veges, to the passing traffic.

MOTUEKA is only a short (very scenic) drive, of around 3/4 of an hour and has a population of around 11,300 in residence. Up until the 1980’s the town had three major industries – tobacco, hops and seafood’s. ROTHMANS, the “MULTI-NATIONAL” cigarette manufacturer, was a major employer for the area, however, with the downturn in smoking ROTHMANS ended up closing its manufacturing plant. This has now been replaced with the hops for the beer manufacturing, apples and berry fruits, while seafood has imprinted itself as a very size-able “INTERNATIONAL” income earner for the local area, as it is the home of TALLEY’S FISHERIES. TALLEY’S main lines are oysters, scallops and mussels.  When I say oysters I’m referring to the PACIFIC OYSTER, NOT THE BLUFF OYSTER. The difference is the look, size and taste. The size is larger, the look of the shell flatter and the taste is not that of the BLUFF OYSTER. 🙁

Kaiteriteri Foreshore. Photo courtesy Mr Chris Bryant Photography Wgtn.

Kaiteriteri Foreshore. Photo courtesy Mr Chris Bryant Photography Wgtn.

Kaiteriteri Beach - Golden Sands

Kaiteriteri Beach – Golden Sands

After stopping in MOTUEKA for some nic-naks we took a short drive  (around 13 kilometers) onto KAITERITERI BEACH. The golden sand of KAITERITERI has become synonymous with summer sun, sea and camping. Known for its beautiful golden sand (made of quartz and mica particles) and stunningly clear blue-green water, this iconic seaside paradise has been attracting holidaymakers from all over the country since the early 1920s. OVER THE CHRISTMAS PERIOD YOU LITERALLY CAN’T MOVE FOR PEOPLE BEING EVERYWHERE!

KAITERITERI is a great pivoting point, for going to other areas, such as the fabulous ABEL TASMAN NATIONAL PARK. The ABEL TASMAN NATIONAL PARK was founded back in 1942, with a coverage of only 225 km² and is the smallest of NEW ZEALAND’S NATIONAL PARK’S, BUT what it lacks in size it makes up for in activities available – BUSH WALKING, SAILING, BOATING, SKIN & SCUBA DIVING, SEA KAYAKING, HUNTING CAMPING & MOUNTAIN BIKING.

Kahurangi National Park from Hawkes Lookout.

Kahurangi National Park from Hawkes Lookout.

The local store at KAITERITERI was literally deserted when we walked in for an ice cream. We had a bit of a wonder around the area, then headed back out (it’s the same road in/out) as we backtracked for about 5 km’s, we had to decide if we would proceed over the TAKAKA HILL, as it was light drizzling at that point.  We decided to go ahead as our timing seemed good. Along the way viewpoints provided fabulous panoramic mountain and seascapes vistas towards Nelson and north right up to D’Urville Island. We were twisting and turning endlessly before we finally went over the top (791 meters high) to the other side. One way to describe it would be to say, “IT WAS LIKE GOING INTO ANOTHER WORLD” lol.  One building I particularly looked for, practially most of the way down, was the old watering hole – THE RAT TRAP!  Yes, it had gone.  The story behind it was the wife of the publican burnt it down – DELIBERATELY, b/c she had caught him wandering.  As the building was in such an isolated location, by the time the rural fire brigade finally turned up from TAKAKA, it was well alight, she was the only one there with a garden watering hose in her hand.  She also knew he had no insurance on the property. Moral to the story is, “DON’T GET CAUGHT WITH YOUR PANTS DOWN lol”.

Once down on the TAKAKA side on STATE HIGHWAY 60, we headed for PUPU SPRINGS. PUPU SPRINGS or WAIKOROPUPU, (as its full name) in MAORI means “BUBBLING WATER”. It is one of those rare places on EARTH where pristine crystal clear water, streams in copious quantities out from the bottom of a natural pool and out of many vents around. Such clear waters conspire a sense of lost paradise, for isn’t paradise defined by such sources? The springs are now well advertised world-wide as witnessed by more and more tourists, EVERY DAY, EVERY MONTH, EVERY YEAR. In early history this place was the working of gold prospectors who found small amounts of gold, panning it from the sand using a bounty of clear water. Now abandoned, their diggings have been taken by an emergent forest through which the tracks lead visitors to the two springs of importance. The floor of the lake is covered with white sand. Waters expelled from some of the smaller vents carry the sand upward. These vents are known as the dancing sands, which for the few scuba divers who secured permission to dive in that spring, was one of the highlights of underwater sightseeing. Unfortunately, the smaller DANCING SANDS SPRINGS has now been closed because impact is feared and because the local MAORIS attach great spiritual importance. But the main spring can still be visited and dived in, although ever more stringent rules apply, until eventually this one too will end up closed? The water for this spring originates in the undisturbed forests located many kilometres uphill, where it submerges into the underwater KARST LIMESTONE river system, to surface here and further out in the sea. Divers have been unable to get any further than 80 meters deep because of the immense pressure.

Waikoropupu Springs Pupu Springs - Takaka (1)

Waikoropupu Springs Pupu Springs – Takaka (1)

Waikoropupu Springs (Pupu Springs - Takaka

Waikoropupu Springs (Pupu Springs – Takaka (2)


The springs are the largest freshwater springs in NZ, the coldest in the SOUTHERN HEMISHPHERE and the clearest in THE WORLD.

They are estimated to pump out a combined 14,000 LITRES OF WATER A SECOND, or 1,200,000m³ per day, yep that’s right! (How much is that in plain English?) – 1.2billion x 1 litre milk containers a day, that’s all – or for those of you Imperially inclined, according to online conversions.com = 2,536,051,702.6 pints a day [US, liquid]  THE SPRINGS are constantly cold at 11.7 Celsius.

Back in the car again we drove into the township of TAKAKA. I was absolutely astounded with the fact that the town had almost NO SHOP VACANCIES. Most of the buildings were older and had been gutted and repainted.  One classic example was the old picture theatre, now a bustling tearoom/cafe  Also hard to believe is the fact that the town had FIVE picture theatres, all running at one time.  Farming, saw milling, limestone quarrying and tourism are all major local industries, for the area. The population of TAKAKA is around 1,150, and is basically a world of it’s own. One of the major draw cards to the area, year-round is ROCK-CLIMBING. It’s about a 20 minute walk from town to PAYNES FORD 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, of course once at the top the views of GOLDEN BAY are absolutely FABULOUS! If your a real tiger for punishment and you really want to see the very top of the SOUTH ISLAND then head north to FARWELL SPIT, THAT is the end of the road.  Another fabulous place I loved to holiday at, which was also up this way, was TOTARANUI BEACH. Pristine clear sea water and a world of it’s own.  I suggest you do your research before going there, like FARWELL SPIT.

Ola, Ossie and Marie - "gifted people"

Ola, Ossie and Marie – “gifted people”

We headed back over the hill round 2.30pm and back to NELSON. One place I omitted to mention, we took a little diversion on the way home, in that we called into THE HOGLUND ART GLASS CENTER and watched the team (OLA, OSSIE AND MARIE) in action, it was absolutely mesmerising. This is not only where you are able to view exquisite objects in glass, but you can actually watch these craft people strutting their art. It is spell-binding just watching the objects taking shape.  The molten liquefied material manipulated so acutely, making each piece authentic and bears the “FINGERPRINT” of the craftsman in every piece created.

We finally pulled back under our car awning at the motel just before 6pm.

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