Golden Bay: Kayaks, Caves, and Seal Pups!

We left Wellington early this morning (around 6:45) to check into the ferry.  We were able to take our rental car with us to the South Island.  I use the term “ferry” loosely because it isn’t the type of ferry that we have taken previously throughout the trip.  It was really more of a ship with several decks, cafes, a cafeteria, bar, and movie theater.


Justin sat on the observation deck the whole time.  It was sort of chilly and windy for me in the morning, so I sat in the cafe and had a flat white until it warmed up a little.

Towards the end of the trip, I joined Justin on the observation deck.  It was quite a view.  The water in New Zealand is a beautiful green color.  It’s different from the Caribbean blue/green….it’s something that I’ve never seen before.  New Zealand is what heaven must look like.  The scenery was breath taking!


The ferry ride was about 3 hours, then we had a 3.5-4 hour drive to get to Golden Bay.  Needless to say, it was a long day!  The drive was the curviest one that we have had to far!  I don’t get carsick easily, at all, but even I have been getting a little queasy on these trips.  Luckily, we broke up the drive with a wine tasting at Kahuangi Estates.  They had some good wine and it was nice to get out of the car and stretch our legs.  We also tried a sherry and port.  They really weren’t my taste.  The sherry was really sweet and thick like maple syrup!

We drove a little longer then stopped at the grocery.  One of the great things about having a car is that we can buy things and take them with us from place to place.  We have bought  bottle water, soft drinks, coffee etc.

Not many  people know this about me, but I LOVE going to the grocery.  I go almost every day in Baton Rouge (even though Justin hates that I do this because I spend money right and left!).  I love fresh fruit, vegetables, and specialty foods.  I miss the Fresh Market!

Here are a few more things that I miss: kosher salt (and salty food in general), roasted Vegetables, our cappuccino machine, sharp knives, big salads with homemade salad dressing, and my big Dutch oven.

I miss cooking!!!!

Ok, back to Golden Bay.  We arrived around 5pm.  We are staying at the Villas of Ligar Bay.  It is very nice, but the first thing that I noticed is that IT IS HOT!  The sun was beating right into the villa.  Of course, i looked for the air conditioner right away. No luck.  Other than the heat, our accommodations are very nice with a beautiful view.  Unfortunately, there is no oven, which altered some of our dinner plans (I was really looking forward to some roasted Brussel sprouts). We ended up having some lamb sausage, portobello mushrooms, potatoes, and cold Pinot Gris.

The rest of the evening, we hung out and watched our new favorite TV show: My Kitchen Rules.  Yes, we have gotten into a New Zealand reality show!

We only really had one full day in Golden Bay, and we tried to make the most of it.

It the morning, we took a kayaking tour.  We were in a group of 6, plus the guide, and kayaked around several islands in the Bay.  We could not get over how clear the water is.  It is unbelievable.  The guide said that the visibility is around 300 feet! It was amazing….like bath water.  We would both love to dive/snorkel in that type of water! Unfortunately, our tour guide said that   there aren’t any reefs in that area.  Plus, the water was pretty cold (about 19 degrees Celsius…..Thailand was around 28).

The views of the different islands from the kayak were beautiful.  Sometimes, there are seals on the rocks but, unfortunately, we didn’t get to see any.

We were able to see some big stingrays swimming around the shallow water.

It was a great morning!

We heard a few times since we got to Golden Bay that we HAVE to go to Wharariki beach. It is about an hour drive from Golden Bay, so we weren’t sure that it was worth it (we have been doing alot of driving!).  The thing that sealed the deal for me was when the owner of the villas said that there are seal pups at Wharariki Beach. Seal pups!!

I tried not to get my hopes up because you never know what you are going to see when animals are wild.  The seal pups may not be there.

We dove about an hour and 15 minutes to the beach.  It was about a 20 minute walk from the car to the beach.  The walk alone was worth the drive.  It was beautiful.  We walked over huge hills and around grazing sheep.  It seemed like we could have been in Ireland.

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Sidenote: I keep trying to convince Justin to let me take home a lamb.  They are soooo cute.  All of the animals that we have seen in NZ are beautiful and look so happy! I already feel like I live in a farm with my pig (Chunk) and my cow (Moose).  Why not add a lamb?  Justin isn’t going for it!

After we walked over the beautiful grassy hills, we then had to walk over some giant sand dunes.  Once we made it to the beach, we looked at the view, and it was absolutely spectacular.  It’s really hard to describe, but it is the most beautiful thing that we have seen so far, and it will be tough to beat.  It was stunning.  We saw a group of people huddled around a little pool of water, so we walked over.  SEAL PUPS!!!!

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I couldn’t believe it.  It is one thing to see animals in the zoo, but seeing them in the wild is an entirely different experience.  It was literally around 15 baby seals playing in a pool of water.  They were jumping, swimming, and scurrying across the sand. AMAZING. And we were in the middle of all of it.  It was unbelievable.  We took tons of pictures/videos.

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After we tore ourselves away from the seal babies,  we walked around the beach and took in the incredible views.  I can’t imagine it getting better than this.

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After we soaked it all in, we headed back to the car.  We heard from several people that we need to stop at the Mussel Inn on the way home from the beach, so we did just that.  It is certainly a popular place!  It was packed!

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I had a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and Justin had a “tasting” of several of their specialty beers.  It was an interesting crowd at the Mussel Inn.  Alot of hippy type people! Justin and I probably stuck out like a sore thumb!

We really enjoyed relaxing with a drink after a long day.

On our way back to the villa, we stopped at a place called Village Milk.  It is a dairy that sells RAW milk from a dispensing machine.  Raw milk (in our opinion) is much better for you than the type that you can get in the grocery at home. Raw milk is non-pasteurized and non-homogenized…….straight out the cow! Unfortunately, it is illegal to sell in Louisiana (crazy). Anyway, it is incredibly fresh and delicious REAL milk, and we are loving it!




Back at the villa, we cooked dinner and called it a night.

The next morning, we had to check out from the Villas at Ligar Bay.  But before we left Golden Bay, we did one more thing.  The owner of the villa told us that we had to go to the Rawhiki Cave.  We had planned to possibly visit the waterfall, but the way she phrased it was: “if you are over 60, go to the waterfall, under 60 you go to the cave.”  The cave is very very off the beaten path.  You have to go through two private farms to reach the path to get to the cave, and it is VERY strenuous uphill climb.  Plus, it would have been very easy to slip and tumble down the mountain just by losing you footing.  But we made it ,and it was gorgeous.  We were the only ones there.  We look lots of pictures, but I doubt they will do it justice.

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I love how quiet everything in NZ is.  In the US, all of these amazing places would be packed with tourists, which would take away from the natural beauty. Standing in the cave, after a 45 minute uphill mountain climb, it seemed like Justin and I were the only 2 people in the world. Really magical.

Next, we head to Blenheim, another wine region.  See you then!

P.S.  These car rides are really fun! I made a great playlist on my phone that ranges from The Eagles to Adele to Queen to Aretha Franklin to Jimmy Buffet and James Taylor. I even threw a little Taylor Swift in there for good measure.  We both find her horribly annoying, but damn if her songs aren’t catchy!  I love looking over at Justin and seeing him drumming on the steering wheel and humming to “Stay Beautiful.”

Also, we have been on this trip for over 40 days, and I think that I am finally starting to relax.  I’m sure that seems crazy to some people, but I was wound pretty tight before we left.  I’m still waiting to receive word about the next crisis at home, but, until then, I’m taking one day at a time and enjoying this amazing experience 🙂

XOXO Alyce

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