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Kahurangi Point Lighthouse – Anatori – Paturau

The windiest and wildest part of Golden Bay is out west. 50km of winding gravel road past Pakawau ends at Turimawiwi, amongst sand dunes and sheep paddock. The farms out here have no fences, and stock run wild among tight nikau, mahoe and akeake coastal forest. Pick a calm day to visit, or the westerly wind will leave you sandblasted and ragged.

For great camping, stay at Paturau by the beach. Caves and sheep pock the hillside. Visit Lake Otuhie to look over pakihi hillsides, burnt off in a vain search for gold. Walk in Mangarakau Swamp. But the highlight of this coast is the trip to the lighthouse at Kahurangi Point, the edge of the National Park.

Anatori is a popular campsite, but I find it far too damp and sandfly ridden. From here you can walk 5 to 6 hours down the beach to stay in the old lighthouse keepers hut. I remember Mrs Jarrett telling us at school of the 1929 earthquake, when houses slipped into the sea, and empty chimneys can still be seen today. The sheep farms carry on almost all the way, a travesty of ecological devastation, finally ending in lush kiekie and rata forest.

The hut is huge and comfortable, with wetback and bath. Wander around the coast to the lighthouse, and further to the cliffs that mark the start of the coastal route to Heaphy Bluff, a difficult but spectacular 3 day trip. Another route takes you inland, climbing through bush to get to the old Ministry of Works hut on McKay Downs, with access out to the Heaphy track.

Bull seals yawn, defeated by beachmasters, and recently a World War I vintage sea mine was found. Two rivers, Big River and the Anaweka River, must be crossed on the way, and only at low tide. I had to swim across last time I visited. At least this keeps the four-wheel drivers out!

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