Camped out at Atamia, goats and chickens, the hillside planted with thousands of trees for coppicing, food and firewood. Some wwoofers arrive, three fellows from England, they are sleeping in the building so hopefully will remember to unlock door so I can access the toilet. I wander around the property, speak with the french horticulturist (whose name eludes me at the moment). He rails on about the restrictive import rules and weak genetic material. His mulberries are not thriving. He is a big fan of bio-char, check it out on the web. They are using it here as a soil amendment with good results.
Next morning in Motueka, at the library! Again 1 hour limit, so after my hour sat out front on the bench and skyped, a nice shady spot, watching folks walk by and go in and out of the library. Laundry, hung it up in the van and went for a drive. The beach at Kaiteriteri is all that was promised, beautiful golden sand, the water an aquamarine green like in all the photos of desirable beaches. And of course sun bathers, bathers and the local specialty, kayakers. I saw a tour bus pulling a trailer load of kayaks, and at least 5 vans pulling trailer loads of kayaks. definitely the kayaking destination. another winding road after my swim, some great vistas, not to mention the real estate. HEY! I think I just figured out my next career change! Real estate photographer, I get to go around snapping pics of amazing houses and their views....Once again I missed that wave. Back to Atamaia I walk up the hill to visit some of the residents. Joanna kindly answers my questions and has a few for me. They are planning a big community, in its infancy planting lots of trees. determining the social focus.
I have a chat finally with Jurgen, he speaks about the possibilities of collapse, peak oil and purchasing the tools needed for survival. The vision of community he has stretches into the future 100, 200 years. Says they are attracting folks with university degrees, forward thinkers. I wonder how they will manage without creating some community on a social level. He is unconcerned. That will develop on it's own with the children and grandchildren of the community members.
I leave the next morning driving up to Takaka hill and the Ngarua Cave. I am among the first of day and watch as the cave is unlocked. Our guide is informative and friendly filling the time inside the cavern with stories and photo ops. On emerging up a ladder she tells about one of the first to write his name inside, followed by many more. She also mentions Harwoods Hole the deepest cavern in the southern hemisphere. Hmm sounds fascinating so why not? I see sinkholes and evidence of limestone everywhere here. The sink holes are dramatic, where the landscape descends abruptly often quite deep. Some have holes at the bottom leading to some subterranean hobbit hole or rivers and passageways going in all directions.
I walk in through a beech forest with very little undergrowth, silent no birds... I wonder if this is ominous. I also wonder how safe my van is since the trail takes 45min just to get there. My better judgement kicks in and I walk on. The limestone is quite distictive and everywhere so some of the trail involves negotiating around over and through. The trail to the lookout is steep and somehow I manage to step off and end up traversing some incredibly sharp rocks into some rather dense bush. I relocate the trail proceeding up and the lookout is carved and broken, finding it somewhat difficult to stand on safely ("I reckon".) I crawl/crabwalk to the edge and attempt to figure out where the hole is. As it turns out it is not that visible unless one hangs over the edge which I was not prepared to do even if I knew where to look.
Descend again and wander on to the hole. Another collection of boulders and sharp edges, I manage to get close enough to snap a picture and do a panorama of the cliffs around before retreating from certain doom should I get too close. I didn't see one person on the way in yet I meet a dozen in 3 different groups on the way out.
Onward to Takaka over the hill and down the other side, a dramatic descent, the usual hairpins and sharp corners with an incredible view. However I didn't take any pictures! I missed the lookout spot, I promise myself to catch it on my way out. The valley here is beautiful, pastoral and surrounded by big mountains. I cruise along into town and determine my route at the library. Backtracking somewhat I head out to Wainui Bay stopping at almost every curve and corner for pictures once I get to the coast. The rock formations are amazing, the beaches divine, I dip my feet and finally arrive at Tui.