takaka and nelson

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Three hours return. That’s how long we drove to catch salmon. But in New Zealand the destination is really just an excuse because the journey there is always downright spectacular. We left Mapua and climbed (in the car, no actual physical exertion here) Takaka Hill, zigzagging past sheer drops and forests and hill top paddocks. It’s a freaky dangerous drive but the views! As we gained altitude, orchards were stretching out to Ruby Bay and Rabbit Island and as we descended, Golden Bay and the endless green of Takaka were saying hello.

Anatoki Salmon is sandwiched between the paddocks, hills and a pristine river. With our supplied rods and ‘murder weapon’ spike (all the better to kill the fish with), we set down on a shady spot spying the large school of salmon lazily wading by. With crickets chirping, the wind rushing through the trees and a lake teeming with fish, well you’d think catching fish at a fish farm would be easy. It’s actually not – you have to work for it (unless you’re really lucky – we saw a guy catch one on his first cast!). After two hours of reeling in a lure (the fish definitely knew better), we caught two one kilo specimens – lunch time was on! Especially for the farm’s dog, who incidentally loves hot smoked salmon. (Who could resist that face?!)

There’s a New York Times article about thin places “…where the distance between heaven and earth collapses and we’re able to catch glimpses of the divine, or the transcendent or, as I like to think of it, the Infinite Whatever.” Pupu Springs (or Te Waikoropup? Springs), is definitely something special – a thin place, if you will. The board walk curves through rainforest, passing dark, rushing tributaries and, suddenly, the spring appears. Nothing prepares for this pool of clear water. Beneath the surface, sways a meadow of red, yellow and turquoise lushness, the underwater image warping in the tide of the spring. The water ripples from the sheer pressure of the spring escaping out of the earth. It’s pristine and ethereal and photo’s don’t do it justice.

 

Pine Hill Lodge | 112 Pine Hill Road, Ruby Bay, Mapua
A bed that looks out onto the vineyards and breakfast brought to the room!? (Jeanette and Paul’s pancakes are heavenly.) The bed and breakfast is literally in the middle of vineyards and has two views of the ocean. It’s private, modern and has a hot tub! Book it. Book it now.

Anatoki Salmon | 230 McCallum Rd, Takaka
Free use of fishing gear and plenty of salmon to have a stab at (yes you have to kill the fish yourself). The catch is paid for by the kilo and hot smoked (or cut for sashimi) on the spot. The hot smoke method is delicious – choose from 20 different flavours.

Hopgood’s | 284 Trafalgar St, Nelson
At the base of the Nelson cathedral stairs, Hopgood’s is deceptively busy, even on weeknights. Generous portions of French inspired food in a warm, jovial atmosphere. Call ahead to book.

Te Waikoropupu Springs | SH60, 6km west of Takaka township
A taonga (treasure) and w?hi tapu,Te Waikoropup? Springs is a sacred and spiritual treasure with some of the optically clearest water in the world. The circuit path takes approximately 30 minutes to complete.

Takaka Hill Lookouts | SH60
There are three notable lookouts on the hill, though the road affords amazing views too. On the Motueka side is Hawke’s lookout, which is about 10 minutes walk from SH60 and looks over Tasman Bay. The second is just outside the Ngarua Caves entry – the views is over karst rocks and towards the western part of the bay. The last, Harwood’s Lookout is perched right over the Takaka valley’s patchwork of paddocks and Kahurangi National Park.

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