Our first stop on the South Island was to Rockville, a rural community south of Collingwood. After a journey of over 364 Km it was just the restful place we needed.
Before long we ventured into Collingwood, at the northernmost end of the Golden Bay peninsula. Once a mining town, it had been proposed as the country’s capital before Wellington was chosen and before the gold strike of 1857 yielded far less than expected. It’s has a bit of a hippy vibe now with some interesting places to eat and drink, including the old Courthouse (1901-1930)
It is recorded, formality in the courthouse was often lacking. Officials would often arrive by steamer, the Lady Barkly from Nelson, its captain was a regular pop-in sight at the back of the court where he would get the attention of the magistrate to indicate his ship was leaving. Tides waited for no man, and that included court officials.stuff.co.nz
A signpost to Collingwood’s historic cemetery gave no clue as to distance but the long hot walk was worth it. Here is buried the Maori chief Tamati Pirimona Marino alongside some of the first settlers and miners who came in the gold rush years of the mid 1800s. A significant number struck down in childhood or midlife through drowning or accident. Their final resting place a harshly beautiful New World, far from the English and Scottish counties of their origins.
Some families of course thrived, most notably William Gibbs, settler and politician after whom the town was initially named but later changed to Collingwood in honour of Nelson’s second-in-command at the battle of Trafalgar.
As Nelson lay dying, Admiral Collingwood took control and with his help the British Navy did not lose a single ship at Trafalgarhttps://co-curate.ncl.ac.uk/admiral-lord-collingwood/
This final resting place accords rather well with the nearby Cape Farewell, the furthest end of Golden Bay. We went when the tide had stretched back up to and beyond Farewell spit – a treacherous sandbank beloved by seabirds.
First mapped by Abel Tasman, the cape was named by Captain James Cook as he caught a last glimpse of the South Island before continuing his voyage to Australiafarewellspit.com
Next stop – the other end of Golden Bay!