What did we buy? What's at Awaroa Bay?
In March, New Zealand bought a beach, and on Sunday it's officially ours.
It was a big deal. The beach cost almost three million dollars. Funds were raised from an online crowd funding effort and a $350,000 contribution from the Government.
Those lucky enough to have visited the beach describe it as "New Zealand's best kept secret."
READ MORE: #BuyThisBeachNZ
There is a reason why they call it a secret... it's a bit of a mission getting to Awaroa. The bay's almost completely isolated.
HOW TO GET THERE:
There's no road access. The closest carpark is located across a 2km wide tidal estuary.
For only four hours each day, travellers can cross the estuary on foot - two hours either side of high tide. It takes about 40 minute to cross the estuary, leaving a small window where travellers can get across, without swimming.
There's another catch for drivers, navigating the road to Awaroa can be difficult.
A view from the hills about Awaroa Bay. SOURCE: PATT BARRETT/FAIRFAX NZ
Alex Crawford's family own Awaroa Glamping, a camp ground five minutes away from the beach. He says the road is dangerous in bad weather. It's a two hour drive north from Motueka. The drive is paved for most of the way, until you reach Totaranui Road. Then, Crawford says, the road becomes like sand.
"If the weather's bad, I wouldn't advise using it," Crawford says. The sandy road twists along saddles and ridges in the Abel Tasman National Park. Campervans are discouraged from attempting the journey. In the rain, Crawford says the sandy ground becomes loose. "When it rains you get slips and all sorts," he says.
The view from Mit Brereton's window.
For those with nerves too sensitive to brave the road, there are other options. You can also fly, walk and sail to Awaroa.
Flying on Mit Brereton's Cessna 185 also requires a bit of nerve.
Breretonflys his six-seater around the Nelson and Tasman regions to Awaroa Bay.
Mit Brereton's Cessna on the Awaroa airstrip.
Over summer, Brereton says he sometimes makes up to three flights a day to the isolated bay.
It's a small grass airstrip at Awaroa. When you fly in, you glide through the native forest and come in right out-front of the camp ground.
"You're in a beautiful little lagoon there, it's just such a spectacular way to get to a spectacular place," Brereton says. He moved to the Tasman region three years ago to become a professional pilot in the area. He has fond memories of the region. "It's where we used to come for family holidays."
When you rise above the tree line, Brereton says the view is "every colour of blue you could imagine."
Flights from Motueka to Awaroa last for around 10 minutes and cost $75.
WHAT TO DO THERE:
When you get to Awaroa, Crawford warns, there is no cellphone reception. It's a one hour walk to the nearest spot with cellphone reception, however, those unwilling to give up their phones have been given a reprieve. Awaroa just got broadband.
Despite its isolation, pilot, Mit Brereton says the bay is home to a small but great culinary culture.
During the summer, Awaroa lodge runs a restaurant, bar and cafe.
The cafe and bar overlook the estuary through tall glass doors in the lodge's conservatory.
The Awaroa Lodge is surrounded by forest.
In the winter and all-year-round, you can fire up the camp ground's outdoor pizza ovens.
Accommodation isn't too shabby either.
There are homestays as well as the lodge and "glampground."
Cabins are priced from $150 a night, but you can camp for cheaper.
Some Awaroa locals have also sought refuge in a grounded boat, turned cabin in the woods.
The camp ground is open all year, unfortunately though, you'll have to wait till summer if you'd like to enjoy the lodge and its conservatory bar.
When you first arrive, Brereton advises you grab a pizza, pour a drink and head down to our beach for the sunset. Even if it's winter, Brenton says a twilight swim is still worth it.