Five Days Around Takaka 

Our 50 plus walking group had five days staying in Takaka and visiting several spots in the Golden Bay. But first we had to get over there so on the Monday I left after lunch a little apprehensive due the predicted rain, heading up the Takaka Hill. The recent storm had caused many slips along the highway with the road closed while they were cleared away. Most of the road had been cleared except for one bad section and it was here I had to wait about 25 minutes before being allowed to proceed slowly. I then drove through mist and fog along the summit and down to the valley floor on the other side to the motel in Takaka, meeting up with the rest of the group later in the afternoon. 

The next day (Tuesday) we all headed out to visit the Aorere Goldfields with clear skies and sunshine above but a little mushy underneath after all the recent rain. We followed the track through patches of bush and scrub, passing an old 1880’s gold sluicing claim then stopping to inspect a couple of caves. The first, Stafford’s Cave, had a large sunken entrance but it looked to be too tricky to venture very far while the second cave was quite something. This, The Ballroom Cave, was down a short side track and one could walk a couple of hundred metres or so down into the cave itself. 



Entrance to The Ballroom Cave.

Possibly Hygrocybe procera.

Druggans Dam 

Further along the track we soon came to Druggan’s Dam which was formed around 1873 to provide a water supply for sluicing for gold. The dam was enlarged during 1900 for more gold seeking, but only 1152 ounces of gold were recovered, and by 1909, it was all over. At one of our stops a fernbird was seen and watched until it disappeared into the undergrowth. On the dam lake were Paradise ducks and black swans but otherwise, all was quiet and still. Down the track and a short drive to call in on the grand old Langfords Store.


Langords Store at Bainham.

The Old Langfords Store

A cup of tea or coffee was a good idea most thought but with fourteen people in our group turning up the store, they were a little over burdened so it was suggested that he take some orders (hot buttered scones, jam and cream, etc) and we would visit a waterfall not too far away and when we returned all would be ready.  These were the Salisbury Falls and it looked to be a well used local swimming spot during the summer. Back to the store, which is now a well visited ‘tourist destination” in its own right and those nice scones plus some little things added like their toilet – The Langford Store Longdrop! 


The Longdrop, Langfords Store.


To Pakawau Peak 

This is a walk through private farmland but it was a steady climb along a farm track. Reaching the summit  at 403 metres above sea level, one had good views all around, looking out to Farewell Spit, Westhaven Inlet, and along the coast to Collingwood. There were dark clouds above so it was not very good for photography.  Down at sea level once again, we called in at Washbourne Reserve but nothing much except for a watery path and no signs. 


A Golden Bay Artists Garden Shed.


On the way back to our motel we called in to the old Onekaka wharf remains – upon which some shags were making use of some of the old piles as resting spots.  The Bay is well known for its arty people and of course we did a little visiting. Sculptures, carvings, quirky bits and pieces scattered around. Tree houses, poles from which hung many coffee cups, signs like: I read about the horrors of drinking … so I gave up reading.  


Resting shags on Tata Beach.


A Visit to the Tata Shags Again

Tata Beach shag vomitted stones.

I couldn’t resist heading out to Tata Beach to watch the spotted shags come in onto the beach again.  Arriving just on daylight, the beach is deserted and then the shags start flying in. The first birds started to arrive at 6.50am and it was practically all finished by 8.30am. 

About 450 came, gathered some pebbles, thrash around in the sea, came ashore, a lot of flapping of wings, some preening, and a wait around. 

After awhile they throw up the pebbles and sometimes stomach worms included, and then fly off as they came, singular and in groups. From the coming to the going, it’s all over in an hour and a half. Then except for the sound of a tiny gentle wave, all is silent. Did it all happened? It’s all quite eery really.

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