In a lot of ways this road trip would be a little different than others. Including a, to us a wee bit challenging, quest: What do you do if neither tramping, climbing, nor longer walks, are an option - with one of us still recovering from injury?

Instead of tramping boots I packed a bikini.

Instead of interesting looking tramps/peaks we marked a hot pool spot in the middle of the mountains as one of the destinations.

Instead of not showering for a few days in a row, I will have literally soaked my entire body over and over again - sauna, ice cold water, hot pool and all.

Instead of simply looking forward to being in the mountains, this time I am almost desperate to leave city life behind for at least a wee bit.

Some of us seek comfort in a nice warm bed sheltered by four steady walls. While I can't deny that this is pretty awesome after weeks/months living in a tent or car, I can also say that there's a limit to it for me. The more time I spend in a city, the more I want to get away from it. Undeniably the last months on and off lockdowns sped up this desire to get away even more.

There's beauty in the simplicity of spending time in the outdoors and away from dense collections of buildings and people. Being humbled by the very basic needs all of us, without a doubt, have in common. Basic needs that, at the bottom line, all aspects of our more or less modern lives circle around. The closer I get to the rawness of nature the more I am reminded of the reason why I am, you, we, all, creatures are. Which is simply to, and just, be. No matter how much fear a news feed holds, no matter how much pressure someone puts on us, including ourselves, no matter how much we've had to go through in our individual lives.

With one of us still in the making of being able to do longer walks again, this time we opted for the light version of this valued time away from the city. Still camping, nature, mountains, woods, but never too far off the path (or road in this case).

Our stops during the trip were:

Maruia Hot Springs pt. 1 - Reefton - Carters Beach - Cape Foulwind Walkway -  Lyell - Maruia Falls - Maruia Hot Springs pt. 2

Below is a map with markers for a bit of visual context.

 

 

Following is an overview of our road trip stops with a few short notes.

Maruia Hot Springs

Maruia Hot Springs

Right within the Lewis Pass National Reserve lies this little spot with natural hot pools and saunas. The pools are open and accessible 24h for guests, saunas all day and most of the night. So, if you stay overnight, you'll have the opportunity to watch the valley sunrise or sunset while melting in the hot pools.

Camping, different sorts of accommodation and specials are offered. Check out their page for more information.

In their welcome brochure it stated that they run completely off the national grid, electricity being provided by a hydro electric generator. The water that serves as a source for this generator coming from a mountain creek just above the resort. Things like this make my little eco heart smile.

There's no mobile connectivity. Access to wifi can be purchased via vouchers. Or you save yourself the effort and enjoy the bit of digital detox.

I haven't been to a sauna in years and entirely forgot how nourishing it can be. I mean, once I got over the initial moments of "Whaaaaaattt? another 13mins?? I'm already sweating like crazy!" Not to mention the friggen ice cold bath after each sauna round.

We spontaneously stopped here again for another night on the way back to CHCH.

Maruia Hot Springs Nature Walk

Maruia Springs Nature Walk

Being located in a valley in the mountains with a river and forests nearby the area around Maruia Springs invites to a bit of exploration, even if a hike is not a major destination.

A short walk starts and ends right by the resort and leads through the woods and along the river.

Reefton

Reefton

This was a wee coffee break stop for us. It's an gold mining town and said to be the first town in the Southern Hemisphere to have electric streetlights being installed.

Which brings me to a random fact: Were you aware that New Zealand has very often been left out of world maps?

Carters Beach

Carters Beach

We stayed at a campground in this suburb of Westport for a couple days.

The beach is a 5 minute walk from the campground and seems endless. During the sunset you see on the photo sky, sea and sand were merging into one at the horizon. If I hadn't fallen for the West Coast already it would've happened in this moment.

Cape Foulwind Walkway

Cape Foulwind Walkway

3.4km one way on a clifftop, Tasman Sea to the west, mountains to the east, wekas all around. Along the way, you come across a lighthouse, an old quarry and a seal colony.

I did this clifftop walk twice. Once with my camera soaking up and capturing the views. And again the next morning as a run.

I was able to get a glimpse of some snowcapped peaks of the Southern Alps in the far distance. A passing tramper told me that on very clear days one would even be able to see Mt Cook/Aoraki.

Seal Colony at Cape Foulwind

Seal Colony at Cape Foulwind

Beforementioned seal colony. From Tauranga Bay you can get to a viewpoint in about 15mins.

Lyell and the Old Ghost Road

In Lyell, a wee spontaneous stop for us on the way back to Christchurch, we discovered some ideas for a future multi day hike. The former gold rush settlement now serves as a DOC campground. It can also serve as a starting point for The Old Ghost Road Trail, a track that can be done by foot as well as mountain bike.

For me this wee stop included an odd encounter with a mysterious wild goat on the way to check out the settlement's old cemetery. Odd because it was in the middle of the woods on somewhat steep terrain and without any obvious farmland around. My theory is the goat is the x-th generation of former domesticated goats left behind when the settlement was abandoned. I'd like to think that some of their descendants now roam the woods wild and free.

Mysterious, mysterious. Her (or him?) and I - after a few minutes of intense starring at each other, I think both of us equally amazed by the opposite's presence - came to a peaceful agreement:

I backed off a little, let her snack, then she gave me one last stare before disappearing into the woods to let me check out the cemetery.

This must've been the wildest animal encounter I've had in New Zealand so far. I mean, besides birds, birds, lots and lots of birds. I'm not gonna lie, her (massive!) horns looked quite intimidating  (Do female goats grow horns?)

Maruia Falls

Maruia Falls

Another wee spontaneous stop. One of the type:

"There's a waterfall sign. Should we stop?" - "Yeah, may as well for a wee break." #notbeingspoiledATALL

In come Maruia Falls, a waterfall created by the impacts of an earthquake in 1929.

For sure a nice last stop on our mini road trip.

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