Golden Bay: A Love Story

Our shoulders dropped a few inches as we descended the winding road over Takaka Hill and entered Golden Bay. Having begun a romance with this little corner of New Zealand when we visited in December, I was eager to reconnect with this amazing place. And we were both thrilled to spend the next three weeks doing a whole lot of nothing.

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New Zealand is for the Birds

Red-crowned parakeet (Maori name= kakariki)

Before the arrival of humans, New Zealand was a bird paradise. About 131 species of land, freshwater and coastal birds thrived on these islands, which cover an area just slightly larger than California. Bird songs, hoots, whistles and calls filled the bush with a chorus like no other. Botanist Joseph Banks, who arrived with Captain Cook in 1789, noted:

“This morn I was awakd by the singing of the birds ashore…their voices were most certainly the most melodious wild musick I have ever heard.”

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Blue Diamond

My body tingled with excitement and anticipation as I started up the trail, a tangle of roots and rocks forcing purposeful steps to stay upright. Despite my heightened awareness, just 15 minutes into the hike, while crossing the first of many boulder-filled avalanche chutes of the day, I rolled my ankle and pitched face first onto the trail, letting out an audible cry of surprise. My ankle was sore, as was my opposite knee, which I had knocked on a nearby rock. I sat for a few minutes, assessing whether I was truly injured and cursing my lack of ibuprofen. Luckily, the pain subsided fairly quickly, and I started once more up the trail, a bit slower this time.

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