first view wharariki beach

After the various pick-ups we left the Richmond Badminton Hall a bit after 0830. The weather was fine and a bit warmer than had been expected. We travelled in two cars to Takaka for a coffee and cheesecake break before continuing to the Pupu Springs road end. Since my previous visit in the 1970’s the whole area had been reconfigured and we were on the opposite side of the river this time. The loop track took us about 25 minutes.

We then continued on to the Pupu Hydro site. From the car park we took a zigzag path up the hill just to the north of the penstock line. It was then a 3 kilometre walk alongside the water race which we interrupted for a quick lunch break before continuing to follow the water race until the path dropped down the hill to return to the power station; this took a bit less than the 90 minutes listed for the walk. The next scheduled walk was the Aorere Goldfields on the true right bank of the Aorere River we travelled several kilometres on very rough back-country roads to get there. From the road end there was a road walk of a kilometre or so to the actual carpark, currently only accessible by 4WD vehicles. We started a climb up the side of the valley passing through some tailings in the form of piles of rocks at the side of the track. This track also followed the line of a water race though this was not as obvious as the earlier walk.

group photo pupu springs

After about an hour’s climb we reached the first of two caves; “Stafford’s Cave”. While some ventured into the mouth of the cave others were content to wait a few minutes before we moved on to the second cave “The Ballroom”. Apparently people with the right equipment can link the two caves by an underground route. Mary and I decided go back to the cars while the others continued to Drugget’s Dam. We reached the Collingwood Motor Camp in good daylight. There was time to sit at a picnic table overlooking the Aorere Estuary with Farewell Spit across the bay and have a snack while watching the sunset. “Mad Skool Café” down the main street was patronised for burgers or fish and chips. Live music was a diversion.

On Sunday we got away about 0730, the fine weather continued though the wind was quite fresh near the coast. A car shuffle was set up, to give some flexibility later in the day in case some decided not to complete both walks Thus we drove almost to the road end near Puponga. Three of us started on the Hilltop Walk heading more or less westward starting with a stiff climb at 0805. We made good time to the cliff- top Pillar Point Lighthouse. We were making such good time that the drivers had had no chance to catch up so we continued on though on descending from this local high point but missed a DoC sign indicating where the walk diverted from the farm track. We continued down this track until we met an unexpected road. We had to climb up the road to get some cell phone reception, but this was not much help so we went along the road heading to the coast walking about 2 km before reaching a junction where one of the signs pointed north to Cape Farewell. Paula and Astrid were able to watch our progress from the ridge top and while my orange polarfleece was clear to them we never saw them on the ridge. 
In due course we walked about a kilometre up the road to the Cape Farewell car park and at the viewing platform the others were waiting and we took a break here. The view from the lookout point is quite spectacular. Then we continued westward passing a new marine eco-sanctuary fence- line as we traversed a number of hills with stiff climbs and descents on the way to Wharariki Beach. We reached the sand of the beach just before lunch which coincided with low tide.

seal antics

A water course was crossed dry- footed once a couple of seal pups had moved off. We walked across the beach towards one of a number of rock outcrops at the base of which seal pups were often found. We climbed onto a rock reef to get a view of a pool where about 8 pups amused us during lunch at a safe distance. About 30 minutes of walk along the beach there was a 10 minute walk up to the farmland where we regrouped at a sign. This was the point where we could turn eastwards to the car park or carry on onto the Greenhills Loop Track”. We decided to at least start the fifth walk of the weekend and followed a fair farm road for about 30 minutes until we reached a bridge across a stream where the track split to form a looptrack. As it was only just 1345 at the bridge and the loop time was given as 1 hour there was plenty of time to complete the walk. A number of muddy sections punctuated the track leading out to the coast which ended in a stiff climb to a saddle where we took a break before continuing; sidling south-westwards across the side of a hill then returning by the inland part of the loop. We made better time on the return. The last section after the junction with the track from the beach skirted a large lake. It was not long before we were on the way back stopping for a snack at Mussel Inn. We were back in Nelson about 1930.
Attendees: Astrid (leader), Paula, David (scribe), Mary, and visitor Torsten.