Day Five: Farewell Spit Eco-Tour (and more about the Cheeky Waiter)

I stand corrected. It was not Abel Tasman that we were headed to this morning, but to Collingwood so that we could take the Farewell Spit Eco-Tour. It was another up-and-at-’em early morning. I truly wish I could manage to sleep past 5 a.m., but too many years of getting up early has pretty much spoiled that notion for me. We walked over to breakfast at the same place we had dinner yesterday, and the cheeky waiter from the night before was there again for the early morning shift– and even teased us about being “late” because it was 7:25 and he’d been open since 7 a.m.! We ordered a large breakfast to make sure we’d last through a full day tour, and I requested a large flat white. What arrived at the table a couple of minutes later made my morning!

'Tis the season!

‘Tis the season!

Snowman?!? What snowman?

Snowman?!? What snowman?

We headed out from Motueka and over to Collingwood, which is on the other side of a fairly large mountain. It’s about 1.5 hours away, and probably half of that time was spent driving a road pretty much like climbing up to the top of Mt. Tamalpais for those of you who know that narrow, curvy route. Pretty much averaged 40 km/hr on that part. The countryside is lush and green and there is a lot of fruit being grown there.

This is growing country!!

This is growing country!!

Once we got to Collingwood it wasn’t long before we loaded onto our very posh seriously 4-wheel drive bus and headed out to the spit. The guide was very good and gave us a lot of local geological history and pointed out the landmarks that were visible through the mist / clouds.

Farewell Spit building

I’ll let the photos do most of the rest of the talking. REMEMBER, you can click on an image to see it larger.
There is only ONE way to get out to where we were taken, and that is via this tour. Farewell Spit itself is very long and the vehicle drives right on the beach, working it’s way out to the lighthouse while the tide is on the way out. After leaving the lighthouse (post tea/coffee/muffin/biscuits break) the driver runs the tour bus ahead of the incoming tide which erases the vehicle tracks from the beach.

Farewell Spit Lighthouse

Farewell Spit Lighthouse

Farewell Spit Lighthouse sign

Lighthouse maintenance checklist

Lighthouse maintenance checklist

Light failure checklist

Sign and skeleton

sea lion on the beach

endless beach

endless beach

Black Oyster Catchers (pair)

Black Oyster Catchers (pair)

Cape Farewell signpost

Cape road hillside

Cape road hillside

Cape Farewell & bus

Cape Farewell, northernmost point of the south island

Cape Farewell, northernmost point of the south island

Cape Farewell formation detail

Cape Farewell formation detail

Cape Farewell cliff

Cape Farewell cliff

back down the track

back down the track

Our tour finished up back in Collingwood around 5, so we stopped in at the local candy / convenience / coffee / sandwich shop for a quick something before heading up and over that mountain. I kid you not, this is an actual item that is for sale there. No, I did NOT buy any!!

Who knew? Camel balls...

Who knew? Camel balls…

Dinner was back at Hot Mama’s, where we got a longer chat in with Shane, our waiter. He’d been there the entire time we were out on the tour! And he is NOT the owner. We learned a bit more about him, and his reasoning for working a bazillion (read: 72) hours a week during high season. Holy buckets, I thought I worked a lot… when I’m not on vacation, that is. Speaking of buckets, the topic of Bucket Lists came up and we agreed that it’s time to not only make them but also to start crossing things off them no matter how young you are. Today I got to cross one thing off mine. I can now proudly declare that I have been top to bottom of the south island between my two most recent trips. The last one included Stewart Island and this time Cape Farewell up at the top. Another item I plan on crossing off the list before my trip is over: seeing Tane Mahuta in a few weeks!! I’ll leave you with something we saw on the way down the sidewalk today that reminded me of the line in the song Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffett. Of course in New Zealand they don’t use the term flip flop as much as the use “jandal” but it’s just not the same…

blew out my flip flop  (Well, it isn't mine, but SOMEBODY did!)

blew out my flip flop
(Well, it isn’t mine, but SOMEBODY did!)

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