When putting together this trip, we all knew it was going to be rushed and a lot of stuff was going to be jammed into a small amount of time. Knowing my sister’s hate for sitting in a car for hours on end, I tried to keep her aware of what was going on and see what she wanted to do. She had a friend staying in the town of Karamea, but we had to skip it as it was over an hour each way and not one the way to anywhere. But when she suggested the area of Golden Bay, which is near Abel Tasman, I worked hard to make it happen.
I found a place to stay in the town of Takaka called Anatoki Lodge and it ended up being one of our favorite places on the trip. We arrived into town kind of late on New Years Eve and when I buzzed the front reception door, the owner came in from across the street where she was having a New Years dinner at The Brigand. I appologized for being late, but hey, it’s New Zealand, everything is pretty casual. After checking in and out the place (awesome! it has an indoor pool!) we treked across the street for dinner. The place was packed, but the wait wasn’t long at all and we quickly got a table for dinner. Another one of our best dinners! The place was awesome. We walked back to the hotel where my parents were in for the night and my sister and I went out to party it up for New Years Eve, New Zealand-style! I wanted to go back to The Brigand and continue drinking there, but my sister wanted to check out other places. We found a total dive bar down the street and had a drink there before the place got kind of shady, so we walked back to The Brigand. That ended up being a good choice. We started drinking there and chatting it up with both locals and the owner. I told him where I worked and we talked tv which turned into two free drinks for both my sister and I! I have no idea what time we finally made it home, but it was a really really fun night, one of my best New Years in memories and we were in the tiniest of towns. So awesome, so classic New Zealand.
The next day, we did nothing, which I had budgeted for. I was so hung over and since I was the only one who could drive, everyone had to wait for me to wake up to do anything. Well, they could wonder around town, which is what they did. I told my sister how to use my EFTPOS card so they could buy food, which was good. I finally got up and we finally made it out for our slowest day of the trip. We went on a short hike to Te Waikoropupu Springs which has the largest supply of fresh water springs in the southern hempishere. Just a nice quiet walk. We drove out as far as we could to Farewell Spit and then back to Collingwood for dinner where we ate at the Courthouse Cafe, one of our favorite meals. It wasn’t too cheap and we just ordered coffees and nearly everything on their menu as it was really small, but just mainly enjoyed the quiet and deliciousness of the food and being outside. A lovely little cafe.
The next day was back to lots of driving. We drove over Takaka Hill to Kaiterteri to do random day trips in Abel Tasman park. Kayaking trips are really popular so the day before I called a company and signed my sister and I up for one trip, which unfortunately I can’t remember which one. But there are so many and I am sure they are all fine. I don’t remember ours being totally awesome or totally horrible, it was just fine. I do remember that our guide was from Ireland which I was kind of meh on. It seemed like a lot of the guides on the South Island were from overseas and the guides on the North Island were from New Zealand. I try to gravitate towards the locals as I always have a good time with them. But other then that, the place was just packed. It’s a huge tourist site and one of the busiest we came across in New Zealand. It was like a clusterfuck of tours all day long. I left my EFTPOS card with my parents so they could book and pay for whatever water taxi they wanted for the day and we just met up at the end of the day. I got horribly burned here, which prompted us to buy “awesome hat” when we got to Wellington a few days later. I remember getting back to the beach where I parked the car and the beach just being swamped with more people then I had seen since I left Auckland a week before.
Then after a another long and windy trip back to Takaka, we had dinner at the “other” restaurant in town, Dangerous Kitchen. A bit more organic for my taste, but still good. I remember I finally did a load of laundry at this place. The town is so tiny, that I threw in a wash, placed my order, ran back to the hotel to throw everything in the dryer, come back and eat, run back to the hotel to take it out and then come back for conversation without missing a beat. I love the ability to just run everywhere and not worry about driving. This is the type of town that I totally wish I had grown up in (sort of). This would be the longest we would spend in one place on this trip and we were finally moving on, back to a big city the next day.
Moral: Takaka, while a very small town, the timing was perfect for our time here. A perfect New Zealand town to hang out in off and on for a few days. You can walk to all the services you will need if your driver can’t move, eat good food and still do touristy things at the same time. And the weather, so lovely! Not really on the way to or from anywhere, but a nice alternative to larger places that serve Abel Tasman such as Motueka. It’s not so out of the way to be an inconvenience.