Golden Bay's rich history and natural attractions are inspiring visitors to explore and helping raise money for a new school.
The Democratic School's fundraiser with a difference is a series of guided walks.
Geology specialist Geoff Rennison led one walk through the unique landscape of Wharariki Beach last week. On Friday there is a walk following in Abel Tasman's footsteps and a walk from Rangihaeata to Onekaka is scheduled on March 7.
Longtime local and history buff Paul Kilgour is taking a guided walk along the coast from Rangihaeata beach to Onekaka beach, crossing four rivers. The walk will begin with a discussion about the remnants of an ancient stand of kahikatea at Rangihaeata beach that are estimated to have stood for 7000 years.
"This is the remnants of a forest that was here before an earth movement occurred," he said.
"Further along the beach is an iron reef of iron oxide. All the other minerals have evaporated through processes such as earth movement, pressure, weather and storms. This is the only place in the northern part of the South Island where this happens."
Mr Kilgour said the Rangihaeata to Onekaka coast used to be the main highway for people travelling from Takaka to Collingwood.
"Before erosion people used to cross the Takaka River at the mouth, on a ledge. There was a ferry man who used to row people across the river, or their horses would swim across.
"There's not much known about the traditional ferry man, but you'll come across mentions of them in books," he said.
"I love it when you look at something and it sets you off on this big mystery. The more you look at it, the more you realise you don't know."
Democratic School fundraiser Martine Barnvinger said there would be lunch at the Onekaka Hall after the walk and the option for a guided scenic flight over Golden Bay.
"Paul will be in the plane with you, it costs an extra $40. So after you hear the history you get to go up and see it," she said.
This Friday the walk "In Abel Tasman's Footsteps" will be led by Robert Jenkin around Wainui Bay to retrace Abel Tasman's first visit to the area.
It will be in three stages.
The first discussion is at the Abel Tasman Memorial, the second in Wainui Bay and the third up on a Wainui Bay lookout. Lunch will be at the Tui Community.
The walks are a fundraiser for the Kahurangi Education Trust, which is in the process of establishing a new democratic school in Golden Bay.
"There are people who are homeschooling who are integrating democratic school principles into their homeschooling programme while working on establishing a private democratic school.
"The Ministry of Education declined our application but we're still working on realising the vision that we had for a democratic school," Mrs Barnvinger said.
Walk bookings can be made at Golden Bay Organics, Takaka or phone 03 525 6037.
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