I started off today with a full tank of gas, an open, winding road, and nothin' but time - can you say road trip?! That right there is pure, unfiltered freedom and oh MAN did it feel good. Damn good! Just those three things alone would have been recipe for an epic day of exploring, but the Universe was on my side and had much more juicy, exciting things up her sleeve for me.
My first stop along the three part journey was The Riwaka Resurgence, which was about a 45 minute drive out of Nelson. It's a sacred (but seriously) little spot where the Riwaka river comes out from underneath Takaka hill and runs down to the sea. I think it's a pretty big tourist destination, so I was lucky to get there early and enjoy it without a crowd. No serious hiking here - it was about a 10 minute walk (tops) from the carpark - but beautiful and definitely worth the stop.
I hopped back in my little rental guy and headed further north for Te Waikoropupu Springs, which took about another hour.
Ok, let's bring it in for a quick sidebar: Driving in New Zealand is, well, interesting. There's usually only one lane of traffic per direction - even on the long-haul roads - and the lanes are narrow and W-I-N-D-Y. I could write a whole post on driving in NZ - in fact, I will. Stay tuned.
I digress. Anyways, so Te Waikoropupu Springs. Fun fact: these springs are the largest fresh water springs in the country and the largest cold water springs in the whole Southern Hemisphere. Now you know.
Really not much to say about this stop. I think I was there for about 30 minutes from the time I parked my car and left. Again, no hiking - it took about 15 minutes to get to the viewing dock and I apparently took the long way. But again, very beautiful and worth stopping for. For all you adrenaline junkies and adventure seekers, you can probably skip this one.
After the springs, it was time to head for Cape Farewell - the northern most point on the south island. Ear muffs Mom and Dad - but for all you other guys - I picked up my first hitchhiker! And look at me, still alive, writing to tell the tale. He's a nice guy named Yonatan from Israel. He's here in New Zealand for a few more weeks and then off to the Philippines for a month before he heads home. He was headed to a place called The Shambala for a few days of yoga and meditation - boom. Another encounter further proving we don't meet anyone by accident. His hostel was right on the way to Puponga, so it worked out nicely. Here's an awkward selfie I told him I had to take for my blog (we're also FB friends now):
After I dropped off my hitchhiker, it was another 30 minutes or so until my final destination. The last 20-30 minute stretch of the drive was down a windy (classic) gravel road that went through beautiful country and rolling green hills. Once I got there, I was floored. Like, jaw-to-the-ground, bug-eyed floored. Cape Farewell is easily one of the most breathtaking and extraordinary places in New Zealand - the world, even. I walked around for awhile and just soaked it all in - I didn't want to forget a single square foot of that place. It was magical. Imagine standing on a cliff, wind in your face, ocean tides crashing against rocks beneath you and you can see for miles. Talk about feeling infinite.
On my way back - again, earmuffs Mom and Dad - I picked up yet another hitchhiker. Her name is Deb, a 52-years-young Kiwi (I hope she doesn't mind I disclosed her age) who is currently living out of a van and on an accidental path to become a healer. A-m-a-z-i-n-g. We quickly moved past the small talk stage and got into the real, juicy topics: yoga, energy, gurus, healing, must-read books, money, lifestyle, you name it. We really connected - and that's the kind of thing that makes my heart so very full and happy. I've met countless people here in New Zealand but have only actually connected - really gotten to know - a handful of people. It was a really special ride and one that I'll never forget. I have no doubt we'll meet again someday. I asked her to be my pen pal and she agreed - weeoo!
To summarize: The Riwaka Resurgence, Te Waikoropupu Springs, and Cape Farewell are definitely worth your time. And if you see a hitchhiker along the way and they look seemingly harmless, kind, and like they won't murder you and/or steal your car, pull over! Use that intuition and trust your gut - you never know what kind of connection may come of it.