Sunday, July 21, 2013

adventure close to home

Yesterday I was doing my early morning read on the internet, when I was thought; why am I reading about what other people are getting up to on their holidays instead of getting out there and doing it?! So the two that were still in bed (our family is split 50/50 between early and late risers) were told to get up and get moving! Sometimes the chores just have to wait.
The night before we had friends over for dinner and we had talked about Harwoods Hole. I thought I'd been there with the hubby, but it turns out he'd never been. So it's been over 20 years since I last went. Maybe the drive had put me off,  because it seemed so far away then, but it only took us an hour to get to the carpark. Part of the road is quite windy as you drive from sea level to 790 metres at the top of the Takaka Hill quite quickly. The views are amazing, but we didn't stop, we were on a mission. From the turnoff to the parking area is 11 kilometres of narrow dirt road, it was not as bumpy as I'd remembered, but was quite slushy from the frost.
Yes the warning signs are needed. Maybe that's why we hadn't gone before as it's not a place to take young children. Maybe from 8 or 9 years up depending on how good they are at listening to their parents!  It was quite cold  in the beech forest, and we came across two frozen ponds. It was great fun to skim rocks across one, listening to the echoes as the stone hit the ice was magical. 
It is a 45 minute walk to Harwoods Hole, the first 30 minutes are very easy walking as the terrain is flat, then more limestone boulders start appearing and the vegetation became denser. The last scramble was quite hard as the rocks were icy, I went very s-l-o-w-l-y. It was almost an anticlimax as the kids expected a viewing platform and to be able to see into the hole, all 183 metres of it! But what you see is the rocks around it, it's 50 metres across, and you know there's a very deep hole in front of you, it's the deepest vertical shaft in NZ, and connects to a very long caving system. My memory from my previous trips was that you could get closer, and at least stand on flat ground, but that would have been in summer when you didn't need to worry about slipping.
After the anticlimax I was able to say the next bit is better! We went onto the Gorge Creek Lookout, it was a 10 minute steep hike up, until coming to this amazing area of very sharp limestone rocks. Over the edge is an incredible view down, down, down.
Unfortunately I didn't quite make it to the edge to look over! Twenty years ago I was slightly nimbler and my fear of heights can't have been messing with my head, so I was happy to pass the camera over to the kids. There's even a very rare photo of me, looking remarkably cheerful while sitting on razor sharp rocks. Thankfully they didn't take a photo of me crawling around them on all fours!

While it was nice to be in the warm sunshine, we were getting a bit hungry by this stage, so we set off back to the car and our lunch. Stopping again for more stone skipping on the frozen pond. The pies we had brought almost three hours earlier in Motueka were still slightly warm, and were delicious. As was the warm sun on our backs.
While having our lunch a tomtit was having his too, as he flew from fencepost to fencepost, occasionally swooping down to grab something from the grass. We also saw a South Island Robin, but I was unable to get a photo of it. We heard lots of bellbirds but unfortunately didn't see them.
If you are a Lord of the Rings fan, you might recognise this area, as the Canaan Downs was used in the filming. Don't ask me which bit because I must be one of the only people in NZ who hasn't watched the trilogy. Does that make me a philistine?
All this and we home by 3pm so there was still time to do some chores, including washing the car! Sometimes we have to remember that we can have an adventure close to home, that holidays don't need to involve getting on an aeroplane, and that the simplest things in life are often the best.


  1. A wonderful trip it must have be worth getting out of bed for! The scenery is spectacular hopefully it won't be 20 years before you return! Lovely pictures of you and your family too.
    Sarah x

  2. Carpe Diem indeed! Good for you, and I must be part Philistine too, lol. I may remedy that someday. So brilliant that we have places like this on our doorstep. Inspirational!

  3. I love this! It is true that you can have an adventure close to home and you usually don't have to travel far to see something neat and have a good time. Those limestone rocks are beautiful! I am scared of heights and not very nimble on my feet, so I don't know how I would have handled some of this, but overall it looks really fun!

  4. What a remarkable place. Those danger signs had me feeling a tad nervous though!!!!

  5. it looks amazing! we could crawl around on all 4's together if i was there as well...i too have a chronic fear of heights!