We’ve set out on this South Island holiday intending to revisit some favourite beauty-spots – and find new favourites. Rarangi wasn’t on the re-visit list…not because it isn’t beautiful – it is – but because we’ve started our last two South Island sweeps there, and it was starting to feel like a habit. But… the ferry was running late, and we didn’t want to go as far as we’d planned, so….
Rarangi it was.
If you’re reaching for the map, find Tuamarina, on the main drag between Picton and Blenheim, and head for the coast from there.
That’s what people used to do, by the horse and cart load, for Sunday picnics.
Now, the road out has acres of grapes on one side, though the rest is hanging on to dairy. And when you reach the beach, there’s an expensive coastal subdivision going in. But turn left along the long beach-side road and it becomes one of those wonderfully haphazard collections of old baches and newish holiday homes you find in such places.
And here’s the magic. Had we not noticed this before? Or has it appeared in the couple of years since we’ve been there? The seaside dwellers of Rarangi are cultivating their letter boxes, turning them into works of art, or whimsy or recycled humour.
Actually, we weren’t surprised.
Rarangi had showed its whimsical side last time – in the minor stone art in the loos.
These are gone now: perhaps in the general spruce-up.
DoC has put quite some work into the place – a new toilet and ablutions block… and some well-defined and fenced areas for parking. Necessary that! The natural base here is soft pea gravel. Drive onto that, and you’re in trouble. The first time we stayed there, we’d read the warnings in the NZMCA guide – and seen the signs erected round the place, and parked ourselves safely on the hard. A very big fully-loaded house-bus drove in later in the evening, didn’t see the signs, hadn’t read the manual … and was immediately down to its belly. All morning tow-trucks and tractors strained to extract it. In the end, it took a bulldozer. Perhaps the locals got tired of the rescue-missions and the entertainment palled. Anyway, now you’d have to be a very determined idiot to get in trouble.
So – Rarangi.
Gin on the beach counting the waves, and watching the light change on the Wither Hills, and breathing the scent of pine forest mixed with sea-air – and not at all sad about the lateness of the ferry.