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ADVENTURE

Walk on the wild side Sarah Nottage goes remote – very remote – on the Kahurangi Coast and finds true freedom. PHOTOGRAPHY STEVE HUSSEY

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oing something unfamiliar or visiting a place for the first time can cause you to stop thinking clearly – especially when there are people watching. Your brain puts on its blinkers and bolts straight to the finish line, even though there may have been several racetracks to choose from. Cue a potentially embarrassing situation. The venue for our most recent awkward experience was the start of the Kahurangi Point Route in Golden Bay, where my partner Steve and I had gone for a two-night hike. From Pakawau (14km past Collingwood) we had driven 38km through a windswept yet lush, wild yet welcoming karst landscape, eventually reaching road-end in a paddock at the Turimawiwi River mouth. With the distinct feeling that the group of riverside picnickers were eager to witness our departure (for reasons that would soon become clear) and a strong belief that by thinking graceful, nimble thoughts we would embody the gazelle cantering smoothly over the savannah, we commenced our first (rather slippery) river crossing. “I bet you $5 one of them falls in.” “You’re on.” Okay, I don’t know that the picnickers were placing bets on us, but I do know it is human nature to covertly observe strangers performing unfamiliar or difficult tasks (backing

We had to consider the combination of weather, sea and tide conditions, and plan accordingly. 72

a trailer, for example). We feel a sense of smug glee when misfortune befalls them, as if it would never happen to us. This emotion is so common that the term ‘schadenfreude’ has been used in English texts since 1852. Borrowed from German, it is a compound of schaden (damage, harm) and freude (joy). Sure enough, Steve fell into the river wearing his large pack – although he described it as a ‘graceful lowering’. “Ten dollars says they decide to head towards the monstrous sand dunes instead of walking along that lovely flat beach.”

A route less travelled Eager to preserve a scrap of dignity and still aware of the appraising gaze of the onlookers, we set off towards the large, tussocky sand dunes (a logical decision, we thought, given this was to be a hike entirely along an ‘unmarked track’). After 20 minutes of slashing through chest-high tussock, the sight of a sheep skull caused me to glance up from the toil. To our right, over the brow of the sand dune, was an extremely flat, expansive, white-sand beach, which would take us all the way along the 8km Kahurangi Point route to the lighthouse (three hours one-way). This could have been accessed from where we parked the car. Despite setting off as if we were in a Mr Bean episode, our planning for this trip had been executed with military precision. We knew this was a dangerous coastal environment. We had to consider the combination of weather, sea and tide conditions, and plan accordingly. The Anaweka estuary mouth and Big River (45 minutes apart) need to be crossed close to low tide. Add one hour to the Nelson tide time and, ideally, plan the trip during spring tide, when there is the greatest difference between high and low water. Check the weather in advance – estuary levels are affected by heavy rain in the hills, meaning it is easy to be trapped at a river crossing. Take a tent and plenty of water. Alternatively, stay at the Kahurangi Keepers’ House for at least one night to allow time for contingencies and to explore this stunning, unique environment.

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WildTomato May 2019  

Joinery & Design Awards | Winter Heating | Learning Programmes | Bev Doole | Superbike Racing | Kono Wines | Fire Retardant Plants | Arden |...

WildTomato May 2019  

Joinery & Design Awards | Winter Heating | Learning Programmes | Bev Doole | Superbike Racing | Kono Wines | Fire Retardant Plants | Arden |...