We decide to forgo the boat ride along the shore of Abel Tasman Park. It would have meant a 45-minute drive to cover a mere twenty kilometers and then the post-boat return trip. I didn’t have the inclination to do the road jockey thing again so soon. We have many absorbing miles ahead of us.
Besides, there’s lots of grubby laundry to do. Especially grievous is the garb that made or didn’t make the Tongariro Crossing. We get four loads washed and hung up on the line, then we head to Takaka town for lunch, and after, a visit to Te Waikoropupu Springs. Takaka is a genuine counter-culture community; you can almost hear the wind chimes, smell the patchouli, and taste the sprouts. I can see that bare feet are customary in NZ: no law prevents one from shuffling into the supermarket barefoot to buy gingernut biscuits. Lunch is very organic. I feel virtuous. The benign stores of Takaka are named Shambala and Hinterland, but not very interesting. The ice cream stand operates with the simplest formula, either vanilla ice cream or vanilla frozen yogurt with your choice of four kinds of frozen berries. It’s then mashed and extruded, soft-serve-style. Delicious and ice cream headache cold.
Te Waikoropupu Springs are just up the road. The volume of water that they produce could evidently slake the thirst of a city the size of Boston, but it is most remarkable for its extreme clarity, a shimmering, bottomless brilliance that is what the word ‘aquamarine’ was invented for. Staring at the depths, I get the sensation of being underwater while standing dry and sunburned on the overlook. These characteristics make Te Waikoropupu unique in the world. The path to the springs crosses many riotous, crystal streams and wanders through a forest, a thicket really, of strange conifers whose bare, twisty trunks stretch branchless for twenty or so feet to a thin, tufted canopy. This is a dappled, murmurous wonderland.
We decide to take dinner in Pohara town, but maybe should have eaten at the inn. Joss enjoys a plate of green-lipped mussels, whose shells really have an emerald green rim. I order something that’s a mashup of an egg mcmuffin and a fish sandwich. Into every life, a little whitebait must fall.