as i was getting weary of the main road, i took a left turn into a gravel road and exchanged the rather smooth surface of the road with gravel but had only 2 cars within an hours drive. the scenery was untypically sparse for new zealand but not without character.
the next morning i bought sunglasses number 8 on this trip after a campervan rolled over my previous pair. in motueka i met danielle from canada. she invited me to takaka over christmas as she was house-sitting for people who would be away over the holidays. in between is the takaka hill. the climb starts with the hardest part, some hairpin bends with heavy incline, steady in the middle part but eases in the end while it makes its way to about 700 meters.
arriving at upper takaka, heavy winds were blowing up the valley and were about to dampen my splendid mood after the wonderful climb and descent. though it wasn’t far to takaka, i turned into the hangdog climbers campground for the night.
the next day i met up with danielle again at the house where she was woofing and now house sitting over the holidays. it is looking over golden bay and has a wonderful garden with plenty of space to pitch my tent. it was great to have a kitchen at one’s disposal again and fresh veggies from the garden. so a lot of time went by while cooking or reading or simply enjoying the view. the owner had also a piano in the living room. once again a very welcome diversion.
on christmas we were invited by some friends who live even further up the hill where only people on foot, sheeps or 4WDs find their way up. the reward is a stunning view over golden bay while the sun is setting behind the wakamarama range which was keeping the rain clouds in the west. premium seats.
there are quite a few people in the area around takaka seeking alternative lifestyles, living as sustainable as possible, with own veggie garden, rainwater collection and solar power. you also see more people using bicycles in their daily lifes and some signs remind the motorists to be aware of that.
the road into the abel tasman park was still closed since the heavy rainfalls before christmas which washed out parts of the road and landslides made stretches impassable. we still went as far as we could and tried to persuade the man at the road block to let us through. the young fellow was new to the job and rather overzealous in his shiny new uniform. so we made a small trip to the rawhiti caves instead. the track was also washed out, so we had to walk up the once again dry river bed and then a small path up to the caves.
after christmas we set out further north towards the farewell spit and stopped near onekaka at a buddhist retreat. in the evening we went to the mussel inn, a small bar with outdoor area around a fire place and their own brews from the tab. it is a popular spot despite its remote location because of the quality live music events. on our way back we took a small foot path which leads through a forest past rock walls full of glow worms, sometimes around a hundred per square meter. a good night.
the next day i was on my own again, cycling back over takaka and the hill with the same name and i was pretty exhausted once i rolled into mutueka again. i still had no idea where to be for new years. i thought it would be nice to have some people around but i had such good company within the last weeks without making any plans.