Exploring Karsty Takaka

Last Tuesday was Anzac Day which meant we were gifted another paid holiday from our packhouse jobs. The weather was some seriously fantastic (chilly) Autumnal hiking weather. Thus, off we went for a return trip to Golden Bay to see strange karst formations around the city of Takaka. In order to get there, though, we first had to drive up the steep Takaka Hill. The "hill" is actually more of a mountain, one that is much bigger than many of the familiar peaks of Virginia's Blue Ridge. On the hilltop, there is a walkway leading through limestone-studded land to a spectacular view of the valley below.

Legend has it that a huge, nasty, ancient lizard-like creature called Te Ngarara Huarau was trapped, set fire to and killed on top of Takaka Hill. Once he burst into flames, his scales turned to stone and were scattered around the hillside, resulting in the formations above.

As if we hadn't already seen plenty of interesting and unusual karst formations on the hill, our next stop was Labyrinth Rocks. Labyrinth Rocks are an aptly named limestone maze full of twists, turns, birds, and - inexplicably - tiny plastic toys.

From there we drove on to our last stop of the day: Grove Scenic Reserve. We took a short walk through palm- and fern-studded bush to a narrow passageway embedded in tall vertical rock. The passage ended in a beautiful view of local farmland all the way to the famous Golden Bay beyond.

Soon after that, we decided to call it a day so Emmett could have plenty of time to make creamy potato/broccoli soup back home. Our journey back was not unhindered - we briefly got stopped by a herd of cattle crossing the road in front of us.

All in all, it was a day well-spent. If you like easy hikes and weird rocks, I'd highly recommend a similar excursion if you find yourself 'round these parts.