Golden Bay exploration
Kaihoka Farm Stay – 15-16 August 2020
This weekend trip was planned around a stay at the old homestead of the Kaihoka Farm in Whanganui Inlet. On Friday afternoon six trampers went already to the homestead. On Saturday morning, the second group had a quick drive of two hours from Richmond, with no waiting at the Takaka Hill traffic lights. We all met at the Pakawau Memorial Hall at 10am.
At the hall we swapped cars to do our crossover on the Puponga Hill Top Track. Eight Trampers started at the Triangle Flat carpark at Puponga, and the other seven drove to Wharariki Beach. I was in the first group and before we started the Hill Top Walk we looked for the remains of the café and I-site that burnt down last year. We were surprised to see that there was no evidence left of the buildings.
Weather conditions were good for the walk: there was surprisingly little wind, the temperature was pleasant and it was partly cloudy. The track is steep in sections and mainly on farm land. We often stopped to take in the beautiful views in all directions, particularly towards the arches at Wharariki Beach and looking back at Farewell Spit. We had lunch at the Pillar Point lighthouse, and met the other group on the second part of the walk. At Cape Farewell we saw the new predator proof fence, a recent initiative and funded by Health Post Golden Bay. This new fence will give coastal birds an opportunity to nest safely at the cliffs.
At Wharariki Beach we took our time to explore the caves and the pool with seal pups. On the way back to the carpark we noticed that Health Post had also been busy with planting natives in the sand dunes.
After the walk we met up with the other group at the cosy Old School Café in Pakawau. The walk was about 10km, the group walking towards Puponga took 4 hours, and the other group took 5 hours with extra time spent at Wharariki Beach. A leisurely pace with many photo stops, and a walk too scenic to rush.
When arriving at the homestead we dropped our bags quickly to be on time at the beach for the sunset. There is a good track to the beach: continue on the gravel road from the homestead, then turn left on a track at the red barn and before the gate. It takes about 30 minutes to get to the beach.
The homestead is simple but spacious with six bedrooms and a TV Room/lounge to put mattresses in. The kitchen had everything we needed, and the well water was fine to drink. The owner Joyce Wyllie visited us in the evening and showed us on a map were we could go for our walk on Sunday. I was really looking forward to this part, as we had seen the limestone outcrops of Mt Lunar from the Hill Top Track and it is always a bonus if you can walk on private land. It was a nice surprise to find out the walk would be entirely on farm tracks, while the ridge had looked quite narrow from a distance.
We left the homestead at 8.30am passing many farm gates and climbing gradually onto the ridge. The weather was a bit overcast but the light was good and there was little wind. Again, many photo stops for the views and the quirky limestone shapes in which we could imagine animals and faces. Just before our morning tea stop we made a side trip down the hill to Pluto’s Retreat, a limestone cave with stalactites and stalagmites. The cave was very easily accessible.
The top farm track stops at a gate and fence with DOC land on the other side. There is no maintained track on the DOC side and we continued down the farm track and explored whether we could go down to the beach. This didn’t seem very doable and we decided to follow the farm track instead. We enjoyed good views along the NW coast and watched the farm dogs chasing some tricky sheep. The coastal farm track looped back to our starting point. We were back at the homestead by 1.30pm. Again 10km in 5 hours, with many stops. We will have to come back in summertime to explore the beach and enjoy sliding down the sand dunes.
Alison had decided to go to church in Collingwood with Joyce and her mum, who Alison knew from her early days of tramping. Unfortunately, she got a nasty bang on the head on the way back, which left us with the question if it is safer to go tramping than going to church….
We packed up quickly, left the homestead cleaner than we found it (as you do as a tramping club) and finished our weekend with a short walk at the nearby Kaihoka Lakes.
Those on the trip were: Joy, Jo, Chris, Marie (Saturday only), Lesley G, Mary W, Sue J, Miang, Anne L, Alison, Eric, David S, Mary H, Marian and Esther (trip leader).