Darker days are drawing near, so I decided to finish ‘Bay walk’ before even I have to accept summer is gone.
Pohara to Whariwharangi (and back to main road): 27kmA couple of week’s ago I walked the roughly two-thirds of the length of Golden Bay, my aim being to keep strictly to the shoreline, despite inlets, rivers and other obstacles. With the whole of the Bay’s coast being so shallow, this is very do-able if you get your tide times right, so once again the right conjunction of weather and sea level presented itself.
I set off from my previous stopping point, Pohara Beach, at around 9am, needing to be at the last and possibly largest coastal indent, Wainui Bay, at low tide.
It would be a very long detour around the edge if I couldn’t walk straight across this vast stretch of sand flats, so I put on a quick pace.
The road more or less follows the coastline for most of the way, but my brief to stay on the water’s edge saw me clambering over rocky points and wading through tidal pools instead. I was forced to make the briefest of concessions at Port Tarakohe where security fences kept me away from the water's edge, but soon I was getting my feet wet again.
|Walking along the road would be easier, but not as much fun?|
By now it was becoming clear that this would be no leisurely stroll along endless stretches of golden sand as the previous part of the journey from Puponga had been, but constant climbing and wading. Not only harder and riskier work, but it was also taking longer than expected, and made me start to worry about making it to Wainui before the tide started to turn.
A walk along sandy Ligar Bay gave me a chance to get my breath back, before a harder climb around the point to Tata beach. It was going well until half way along, a familiar stench suddenly assailed my nostrils, instantly making the blood drain from my face. Many years ago Rose and I had become trapped on a rocky coastline with no choice but to push ahead, and were attacked by angry seals each time we rounded a corner. These ‘cute’ animals are no joke when territorial and surprised, and sure enough, I got a face full of sharp teeth and roaring fish breath when I cautiously raised my head above the next boulder.
|Can you see the seal? |
Don't worry, it won't let itself to go unnoticed for long...
This was all I needed, it was already slow work hanging onto steep and sharp rocks without worrying about enraged sea mammals, which look exactly like boulders until you almost step on them. And no fun for the seals either - this was their ‘hood’, after all.
I’ve never been happier to see the always beautiful Tata beach, as I finally stumbled out of the rocks. I quickly paced its uniquely apricot-tinged sand before starting an even longer climb around to the surely fast-filling Wainui Bay.
I had clambered this particular stretch of rocks before, however, and it gives a unique view of a dramatic stretch of coastline. Only one distant seal and a familiar climb helped me make quick progress, and I arrived at Wainui Bay only half an hour after low tide. This gave me plenty of time to get across to the carpark on the far side, which marks the beginning of the Abel Tasman track and the very last stretch of my walk.
|In an hour, you'll need a kayak to get across here. |
(Looking towards Tata Point and the ridge I'm about to climb)
I had lunch here and tried to dry out my shoes, before starting a very steep ascent to the ridge above Tata point. Obviously I could hardly say I was staying on the coastline, but this did allow me to reach Whariwharangi beach, which had been decreed the end point of my Golden Bay traverse.
I probably shouldn’t rave too much about this hidden paradise - a sparkling jewel among the many beautiful beaches I’ve been blessed to tread on this very long walk.
|Beautiful, deserted Whariwharangi.|
After swimming in the surf, warm even at this time of the year, I reluctantly had to head back over the hill. Mid-autumn also means shorter days and cooler evenings.
I’ll definitely come back here and stay the night, maybe even in the purportedly haunted DoC hut. And I’d like to walk to Separation Point, which perhaps truly marks the end of Golden Bay. After that? Who knows - I’ll keep you posted…
|The view from the ridge on the Abel Tasman track, looking back towards Tata.|
Note that Wainui Bay is filling up fast