Oh, the ineffable awkwardness of the B&B breakfast with the other guests and the host organisms. You cultured this yogurt yourself? That’s wonderful. And – No. Thanks, but no. Today is not a prune day. We kinda fly outta there after contemplating lying to the guest book. LOVED the bagpipes! There’s quite a trek ahead of us. Maybe we can stop in Havelock at the famous Mussel Pot for a plate of their famous green-lipped mussels. It turns out we’re much too early for a mussel lunch, but right on time for coffee, the essential nutrient of all travelers.
On to Nelson, a large town / small city en route to Golden Bay. Between the city and the sea, miles of sand flats extend as far as the eye can see. Is the tide out? After lunch, a voluminous antique store draws us in. Lots of quirky stuff, with a curious predilection for Made In USA items, e.g. milk bottles from New Hampshire. We make a couple good scores: a kiwi key rack (say that fast three times), an unearthly blue plastic basket-textured baby doll, a wee squirrel nutkin with genuine fur tail, a raccoon claw bottle opener, and a beautiful little ceramic kiwi. Treasures all. We chat up the guy behind the counter and discover that he and his partner scour US flea markets and upscale fairs like Brimfield and then ship a container full of goodies back to NZ. Kiwis can’t get enough of American detritus.
The GPS goes incommunicado as we leave Nelson, but we’re headed in the right general direction so we put our trust in the Lloyd. With little warning, the road begins rising and twisting mightily. Our trajectory is relentless. Joss becomes increasingly unhappy, though I’m managing skillfully. This is the fearsome Takaka Hill. The only way to Golden Bay is up and over. Near the top, at some ‘caves’, there’s a turn-off that offers a heart-stopping panorama. I pull over just to catch my breath. Now we’re on the downward side, slowly switchbacking into lush valley grassland as the golden light of magic hour turns everything into a dream. We ease into Pohara and find the Sans Souci Inn, our resting place for the next three nights. The inn’s host is also a chef. Tonight he serves venison and it is nearly divine.