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If you are at all like me, you're always seeking a new adventure and an opportunity to run from the cold and head for warm rays and Vitamin D. Among one these fleeting trips from Wisconsin winters, I traveled to New Zealand for a two week trek around the south island.
Departing from Quito, Ecuador on February 4, I began my 36 hour travel to Christchurch, New Zealand. After a 5 hour flight to Houston, a 12 hour layover in Houston, a 15 hour flight to Aukland, a 2 hour layover in Aukland, and a 1.5 hour flight to Christchurch, I had finally arrived. There, I attempted to recover on sleep and met up with my travel partners who had come from Sydney at the All Stars Inn on Bealey.
After a joyful reunion and regrouping, the three of us headed south to Te Anau outside of Fiordland National Park in our Holden Equinox. We hiked in, kayaked throughout, and discovered some of the most unbelievable geological structures. From glacial streams and river beds, fjords, snow covered mountains, rainforests, glaciers, to gushing waterfalls, we saw it all.
After a week in Te Anau's Youth Hostel Association (YHA), the three of us drove north to Queenstown where we were blown away by the sheer number of tourists. The town was exploding with diversity and rich with restaurants, bars, and shopping districts — a dramatic change from the small town of Te Anau, with the downtown consisting of a Fresh Market, Habit Foods food truck (a must try), a pizza joint, and a town information center.
One travel companion flew back to Sydney from Queenstown, and my boyfriend and I headed north up the west coast to Takaka, in the Abel Tasman Region. A ten hour drive alongside, arguably, the most remarkable and undeveloped coastline I have ever seen. We rented an Airbnb a couple kilometers outside of Takaka with a view of the Takaka river and of the Golden Bay.
The second day of our stay, we slowly got moving and looked at a satellite map of the region. As we trailed along the images of the 20 untouched beaches, we realized no matter where we would go, we would be blown away. We drove north west to the tip of the south island's peninsula called Farewell Spit. The end of the road widened out to a car park in the middle of a sheep's pasture.
We grabbed our sunscreen, a frisbee, camera, water, and the PB&Js and hurdled over the fence toward the beach. We walked alongside a tidal zone that overlooked the Golden Bay for thirty minutes, shuffled up dunes that ran between the two sides of the peninsula, and walked across toward the Tasman Sea. The 2 kilometer stretch of dunes were widespread and filled with natural rain pools that stretched in every direction.
When we reached the stretch of beach on the Tasman Sea, we sat down and ate our lunch. Proceeded to swim, throw the frisbee, and thoroughly enjoy ourselves on our, essentially, private 35 kilometer stretch of beach. For 4 hours that afternoon, we did not see a single person on the expansive beach. It was just us, the birds, and the occasional stingray that glided along our toes when we dipped in the sea.
This beach was utterly unforgettable and will forever be a warm memory in my heart and soul. The thought of sunbathing and laughing with my best friend on that bare and beautiful sand will get me through any winter onward.
Farewell at Dusk
Provides an idea of the level of expansiveness and remoteness of the beach.