Another Trip To Golden Bay

I went down to the South Island last week for a holiday with a bunch of friends. I was still in Tampa when they started planning it and I wasn’t completely paying attention to all the details at the time, so it was a bit of a nice surprise that they’d planned this really fun little summer break thing.

Abel Tasman sign

The first thing we did was spend a day in the Abel Tasman National Park, to do a walk/kayak day and generally bask in the summeriness. I’ve done something similar, years ago, and it was just as fun this time around (and I did the ‘hike’ part of it in jandals again, just like I did the first time).

Beginning bridge

Cloudwater Marahau

Theresa, who was visiting from Melbourne for the week, had to be discouraged from eating the pretty purple berries.

Therese purple berries

And we saw a spider that turned out not, to my complete surprise, to be dead:

Not dead at all.


I was too busy paddling with my bandmate to take any actual kayaking pictures but I did manage to capture one of Rachel holding a jellyfish on the beach.

Rachel jellyfish

We spent the rest of the time at Shambhala, about which I have written before. Interestingly, sort of, the last time I was there was almost two years ago when my mom came to visit me here in New Zealand, and I did wonder a bit what it would feel like to be there again.

Shambhala morning

Teahouse Buddha

Garden Shiva

I spent one whole afternoon writing in what I still refer to as ‘my paper journal’ and reading a book in the teahouse, as I often do when I’m there. Drinking tea and eating mandarins and ginger nuts, looking out over the cliff to the sea. I couldn’t take a picture of that—because what is there to take a picture of—but I thought about Mom a lot that day. Later I went down to the beach and looked at all the hermit crabs and anemones and shrimp and funny little fish in the seamed rockpools, and I couldn’t help being sad and disappointed in myself: thinking of when she and I did the same thing on that same beach, and how tired I was from the drive that time around, and how I was feeling a bit stressed by spending every minute of every day with Mom, and how I wasn’t the daughter I wanted to be, to her, and how I would give anything, anything, to be able to be a better daughter to her now, if only she were here.

I guess that’s the good thing about weeping aloud at the beach, though: you just go wash your face in the surf and you’re salty all over and it’s like it never happened.

Shambhala sunset

It wasn’t all tears and regrets, I’m happy to say. There was a lot of eating delicious dinners outside on the new (to me) porch at the main house.

Rachel Leimomi Megan outdoor table

corn dinner


There were surprise birthday cakes (a jam roll and a cream roll, accented by the extremely kiwi lollies jet planes and pineapple lumps. .

Chris Janna birthday cakes

We drank coffees (or ‘coffees’), too, like good Wellingtonians.

Leimomi coffee

Jez coffee

I brought all my nail art stuff so we could do pedicures in the sun:


We went to the beautiful Pupū Springs, which are much deeper than they look, apparently, and mesmerizing in their over-the-top colour scheminess.

Springs profile pic

We went a wee while down the road to Collingwood, where Rachel and Chris waited in vain for the library to open.


We stopped at a beach on the way back and admired this excellent and well-made little driftwood shelter:

Beach hut

And this amazing tree completely blew my mind—it was just sitting in the middle of nowhere, at high tide.
Barnacle tree

But upon further inspection it turned out to be just covered in all sorts of molluscs and other assorted sea buddies. I just couldn’t imagine how long that tree would have had to have been there, for so many clams and barnacles and tube worms to grown on it. We spent a long time marveling over its wonders.

Closeup barnacle tree

We did other stuff, too, the way you do on holidays with friends: we sat around and told stupid stories and braided each others’ hair and ate probably too many bickies with our cups of tea. We had real fruit ice creams after the kayaking day and nothing ever tasted so good, nothing ever. Me and my bandmate played all five of our songs down at the teahouse and our friends (who have heard us sing all of those songs, so many times before) were nice enough to scream and yell and applaud like it was their first times. We took naps. We put on a lot of sunscreen and got a lot of sandfy bites. We went to the Mussel Inn, as you do when you’re anywhere in its vicinity, and I drank a lot of Ginger Bears and Lemming Aids. We looked at the stars and the sunsets and felt glad, I think, to be all together and to do pretty much whatever we wanted.

Arohanui Golden Bay


  1. Chi,
    It sounds so lovely, relaxing, fun and cathartic.
    Love you and miss you.

  2. Chi,
    It sounds so lovely, relaxing, fun and cathartic.
    Love you and miss you.

  3. Nomie (@anachronistique)

    Super jealous of the warm and sunny splendor, but I’m glad you got to take this trip and be with these friends and have these feelings, even if some of them are hard. <3

  4. One of my top fave trips anywhere in New Zealand with the gang! So glad you’ve already blogged about it — my mission is to do it tomorrow.

    Here’s to many more fun trips with buddies!