Car­ing about Kar­i­tane

As­tun­ning stretch of coast with sea lions and dol­phins north of Dunedin has ADYSHANNONWANTING more of it.

The Press - Escape - - ESCAPE -

If there is ever a con­stant on the east coast­line of the South Is­land, it is the un­pre­dictabil­ity of the weather. At Kar­i­tane, a small coastal set­tle­ment near the mouth of the Waik­ouaiti River, the con­trast from my pre­vi­ous visit two years ago is huge. Last time it was cold, wet, wild and windy. This time, although over­cast, it’s calm and mild.

On both oc­ca­sions I have seen sea lions bask­ing on the shore and dol­phins off the shore. This rel­a­tively un­known scenic coast­line 35 kilo­me­tres north of Dunedin and just a few kilo­me­tres off the state high­way is fiercely im­pres­sive. But re­gard­less of the weather, the small stretch of Otago penin­sula is an idyl­lic re­treat.

The name is syn­ony­mous with child health ser­vices in New Zealand, thanks to the ef­forts of Sir Truby King, an English psy­chi­a­trist and pae­di­a­tri­cian, who set­tled in the area in the early 1900s. Ap­palled by our na­tion’s in­fant mor­tal­ity rates, Dr King pi­o­neered a new style of in­fant care and started a ded­i­cated hospi­tal for moth­ers and ba­bies at Kar­i­tane. The con­cept in­tro­duced na­tion­ally was the fore­run­ner to the Plun­ket So­ci­ety.

By the turn of the 20th cen­tury, Kar­i­tane, with its fine white/grey sand, was pop­u­lar with Dunedin peo­ple seek­ing a beachside so­journ. Fast for­ward to to­day and that rest­ful, fish­ing-vil­lage am­bi­ence seems mostly un­changed.

Dur­ing De­cem­ber and Jan­uary the res­i­dent pop­u­la­tion of 300 swells with hol­i­day­mak­ers at­tracted by the at­mos­phere and su­perb kayak­ing, swim­ming, surf­ing and fish­ing.

The shel­tered semi-cir­cu­lar bay can eas­ily be missed, but be­yond the estuary are signs di­rect­ing pass­ing traf­fic to the spec­tac­u­lar coast­line. The area is rich in Maori his­tory. At the north­ern end of the bay, a road leads to Huri­awa His­toric Re­serve, site of Chief Te Wera pa. The out­crop of land was re­turned to Ngai Tahu in 1998 as part of the claims set­tle­ment and is jointly man­aged by the De­part­ment of Con­ser­va­tion and Ngai Tahu.

Well-de­fined tracks around the head­land pro­vide easy walking trails and of­fer su­perb views. In­ter­pre­tive plaques on the tracks ex­plain the le­gend of the area in po­etic prose.

On ei­ther side of the main coast road, quaint and quirky hol­i­day cribs neigh­bour grander houses.

Many places are avail­able to rent, and ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions in­clude large ram­bling farm­houses – ideal for big groups – to tiny ‘‘or­ganic’’ baches more suited to one or two oc­cu­pants.

The Kar­i­tane vil­lage store sells sta­ple re­quire­ments, but a re­turn to State High­way 1 is needed for petrol, liquor, cof­fee and take­aways.

If Kar­i­tane is booked out, War­ring­ton pro­vides an ideal alternative base to ex­plore the re­gion. Lo­cated 12km south of Kar­i­tane via the scenic Coastal Rd, the nar­row wind­ing route of­fers out­stand­ing views as it criss-crosses the main rail line six times. War­ring­ton features a stun­ning cres­cent-shaped beach pop­u­lar with surfers and swim­mers. The beach is pa­trolled by vol­un­teer life­guards ev­ery week­end through sum­mer.

On grass-cov­ered hills above the dunes, weather-beaten, weath­er­board houses and hum­ble hol­i­day cribs sit among the lush green ru­ral land­scape.

I hope it won’t be two years un­til my next visit. This re­gion is wor­thy of more fre­quent, and longer, stopovers.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.