Harwood's Hole - 176 metres of nothingness and rock bottom
Our first stop at was at Harwood's Hole, a huge 176-metre deep pit connected to some kind of underground water cave system. It's accessible through a short walk at the top of Takaka Hill and it's really impressive. You stand on the edge of this huge black hole whose bottom you cannot see even on a sunny day, with nothing but thin air between you and a deadly drop into utter darkness. Of course Dominik and I climbed the highest and most exposed rocks and posed in the most hazardous ways to get the coolest photos. Shame that the area is so vast a person barely covers a few pixels in the whole picture.
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Not far from the hole there is another, even more amazing place, the Gorge Creek Viewpoint. It's basically the edge of the mountain, with a superb view into one of the Able Tasman valleys. The view isn't the main attraction, though; what's really interesting is that the limestone rocks have been eroded into all sorts of weird (and sharp) shapes. They're quite hard to describe, suffice to say that I see where Peter Jackson got the inspiration for Mordor.
Speaking about Mordor, the whole area gave me a strong feeling of deja-vu and felt very familiar, which is no wonder considering how many scenes from The Lord of The Rings were shot there, and how many times I've seen the films. Do you remember when Frodo gets stabbed in the shoulder and Eowyn rides him to safety, being chased by Nazguls in the dark forest? That's exactly what our walk reminded me of, I was just waiting for some elves to pop out from behind the trees. And it's a really beautiful forest, by the way, kind of mystical.
Anyway, after this pleasant walk we kept following Highway 60 towards Golden Bay, on the other side of Takaka Hill, but not before stopping for a few pictures at a viewpoint offering an absolutely stunning view of the Takaka Valley, a huge patch of lively green land that looks like a carpet from high above and is home to so many cattle farms that it could be called Cattle Land.
The next post will be dedicated entirely to the small town of Takaka, the "capital" of Golden Bay.