Easily my favourite place in New Zealand (and probably the world) so far.
A few weeks ago, in the North Island, we met a guy called Martin. Martin had been in New Zealand for over a year, and had done a lot of travelling across both the North and South islands. When we met him he was just a few days away from flying to Thailand to carry on his travels, and so he was trying to get rid of most of his stuff. I ended up buying a frying pan and a fishing rod from him, but the most valuable and useful thing we got from Martin was completely free. I mentioned that we were headed to the south island soon, and asked him if he’d mind marking some of his favourite things on the south island on a map for us, which he happily did.
The first thing he marked on there was a place that he said was his favourite place in the whole of New Zealand, the most beautiful place he’d seen and somewhere that should not be missed. That place was Anatoni.
To get there is an arduous two-hour journey along rough gravel roads, but it well worth the trip. Head north from Nelson, up past Abel Tasman, past Golden Bay, and keep going, past the turning for Farewell Spit. The road turns to a gravel road, and you simply follow that road until it ends. The road curves and dips along through isolated, wild countryside, providing some spectacularly eye-popping views, and then hugs the coast, heading north-west, before turning south and making its way down the top end of the west coast of the South Island. Eventually it comes to fairly small grassy area, with one basic long drop toilet. There are no sinks, no showers, no water and no other facilities, but its completely free to camp and the campsite is right next to an amazing beach.
We were lucky in that the weather was spectacularly good still, and with ample firewood in the form of driftwood on the beach, we cooked dinner that night on the fire, a cowboy-licious combo of veggie chilli and grilled corn on the cob. Corn cooked over an open fire with lots of butter, salt and pepper is a real treat.
The next morning I realised that it was pancake day in the UK, and by some small miracle we had all of the ingredients for pancakes in our Tupperware larder, so I rustled up pancakes for breakfast. We didn’t have any oranges or lemons, but we did have a winning DIY Nutella in the form of peanut butter mixed with cocoa powder, cinnamon, brown sugar and lots of apples and pears courtesy of Rainbow Valley. Pancakes never tasted so good!
If you are ever in New Zealand, do yourself a favour and do not miss this place. It is without a doubt the most beautiful place in New Zealand so far, and quite probably the most beautiful place I have ever been. It’s that good.