Te Waikoropupu Springs: The Beginning of Golden Bay’s Fantasy Landscape

Golden Bay: the land of Labyrinths, ancient caves, moa bones and some of the world’s clearest spring water. Sounds pretty fantastical, doesn’t it? Well, this place exists and we are going to it today!

We leave the Tasman Bay Backpackers, just after the free breakfast (obviously) and head on the road to the remote area of Golden Bay. Golden Bay has only one access road and a massive mountain to get over, which is probably going to take a couple of hours in our campervan.

Snowy mountain views from the beach!

In New Zealand, it’s pretty important to stop driving regularly and keep refreshed. We really took this rule all too literally when we stop seven minutes into the drive to have a look at the beautiful Tahunanui Beach. This long stretch of sand has the most incredible backdrop of snow-capped mountains – just to emphasise how close mountains and sea are in New Zealand.

Good break, now we can get back in the van.

Choosing our tunes in the supermarket

For such an epic journey, we need to refuel our camper and replenish our food from the last cheap supermarket we are going to see in a while. Did you know you can choose the next song that is played in Pakn’Save?! We choose a timeless classic of a song on the way in, Men in Black by Will Smith. You’re welcome, everyone, you’re welcome.

Tahunanui Beach and its mountain views Tahunanui Beach and its mountain views
And now we are in the mountains And now we are in the mountains
Hiding from orcs Hiding from orcs
We've made it to the springs! We've made it to the springs!

The workout up Takaka Hill

Food bought, half the supermarket annoyed with our choice of song, we are on the road to Golden Bay. Is this the windiest road we have taken so far? We think it might be! Robin is getting the workout of a lifetime turning the wheel of our camper which lacks power steering.

Fruit fields, Middle-earth rocks and mountains!

As we said before, it’s important to take regular breaks so the driver can feel refreshed. Again, in reality, there are just too many incredible views to stop at. On one side of the hill, we have the coast of Motueka with all its fruit fields leading up to the mountains.

On top of the hill, many basalt outcrops are revealed making this look like a place of Middle-earth.

Finally, the way down the other side of the hill goes through forest to wide open views of those snowy (but cloudy at the moment) mountains.

Te Waikoropupu Springs

Takaka is the main settlement in Golden Bay and will be our base while we are here. But for now, we drive straight through. We have some springs to see!

Only about 8 minutes out of Takaka is the Te Waikoropupu Springs, or Pupu Springs for short. This is the largest freshwater spring in New Zealand, discharging 14,000 litres per second!

A Maori toanga (treasure)

It’s also a sacred place for the Maori, which is obvious on the drive to the springs, decorated with impressive pouwhenua (carved poles). The information signs at the entrance of the springs are covered in Maori art to mark this taonga (treasure) and wahi tapu. The local Maori have opened up with sacred place to the public, but ask that people respect the water by not making contact, eating, drinking or smoking here.

A Maori welcoming A Maori welcoming
Reflecting on life Reflecting on life
A colour overload A colour overload

Every single detail!

Even before we’ve reached the springs themselves, the walk along the riverside is just a taste of how clear this water is. Although there are rapids, we can still see every stone of the riverbed!

Dancing Sands Spring is the first lookout point (or the last – it depends which way around the loop track you go). The water is shallow so you can see every single detail under the water, including its lush green weeds.

A fantasy lookout

The main lookout over the deeper springs in the finale of this fantasy-like location! The water is so clear, (63m visability), that we can see the bottom even in the deepest parts of the springs.

Bubbles dance on the surface, revealing where the water comes out of the ground. God, nature is so freakin’ amazing! We feel so lucky to see these natural wonders in front of our eyes, even if it has started to rain!

The walk loops round through the forest and back to the car park, where we head back into Takaka.

Kicking back with our bare feet

Tonight, we’re staying at the delightfully hippy-like Bare Foot Backpackers. Again, free breakfast of homemade muesli! The South Island surely feeds us well!

Join us tomorrow, when we’ll no doubt rave about the breakfast. The weather is forecast to be pretty sh*tty tomorrow, so we could spend it in a cave, in a Labyrinth, or fishing and cooking salmon… We really don’t know! Anything can happen in New Zealand!

Laura and Robin

It's a dreary day but, damn, that water looks good!
It's a dreary day but, damn, that water looks good! Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

Want more?

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See you tomorrow!

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