River Inn and Paton’s Rock, Golden Bay, New Zealand

One evening found us without accomodation.  All the backpackers we knew were full, and we weren’t about to pay double for a motel.  So, we were driving around looking for a place to park and lay our heads down (in the car) when providence struck.  We spotted a white building off the highway with the words “RIVER INN” scrawled in giant letters across the roof.  We decided to check it out:

River Inn

It’s a colonial/country looking building – nice enough.  Funny thing, there’s nothing around it – the place is surrounded by fields – odd location for a backpacker, but kinda cool.

We managed to get a room for a very good price (around NZ $55- ish).  The owner and his wife were very friendly and helpful.  The room itself was simple, clean and very comfortable.  The only thing missing was a plug-in because apparently that wing of the building was under renovation.

Besides having the rooms, they have a full sized bar, kitchen and dining/restaurant room and what looked to be a TV room.

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The place was pretty large and spacious.

Having found a place to stay, we had a day to burn.  We asked the owner if there is anything to do, and he suggested we go to a nearby beach area called Paton’s Rock and pick clams.  New experience – I’m in.  So, at 8 am the next morning, we set off for Paton’s Rock.

A short, 10 min. drive later, we were walking along the beach.  It was a gorgeous morning – the sky was bright blue, and a gentle breeze tickled the skin.  It was low tide (best time for this sort of activity), so the water was far out in the horizon having left pools on the beach:

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Digging into these pools, we were told, would yield buried clams.  This is a close up of one of the pools:

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So, buckets in hand (provided by the people at the River Inn), we started mucking about, looking for lunch:

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Within a few minutes of digging, we found loads and loads of clams.  There’s a limit that one can pick, but I’m not sure what it is.  Some people said 50, and some said 150 (per person), so I picked somewhere in the middle.  We threw the litte ones back, and kept the big ones.

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At the end of it, we had a bucket:

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But that wasn’t all.  “Rotten” (one of the guys from the River Inn who came with us) suggested we look for mussels on the nearby rocks.  We jaunted over, and started hunting for big shells among the thousands of mussels clinging to the rocks:

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This was much harder work than digging clams – the mussels were tightly wedged to the rocks and took a bit of effort to wiggle them free.  Be careful if you decide to do this, as some of the shells hare sharp and may have rock oysters attached to them (awesome) which are even sharper.

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Rotten posing with a catch.

Rotten posing with a catch.

Time flew by while we were doing this, and all of a sudden it was 4 hours later.  We packed up and went back to the River Inn, where we comandeered the kitchen to wash and fry up the day’s catch:

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It was an amazing experience, and a great way to spend a morning.

All this was possible because we were fortunate enough to find the River Inn.  And as if all that wasn’t awesome enough, before we left, the owners gave us blankets to keep warm on our travels.

So, if you are ever up in Golden Bay make sure you stay at the River Inn and ask about picking clams at Paton’s Rock.  The Inn is located off hwy 60 between Takaka and Collingwood.  As you leave Takaka and head north, look to your right for a lone standing white building.

Here are the contact details:

And Paton’s Rock is here:

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6 Responses to “River Inn and Paton’s Rock, Golden Bay, New Zealand”


  1. 1 Phillip March 1, 2013 at 5:56 am

    Nice experience. I did that a lot while living in Cape Town. Sounds as if you guys had a great trip.

  2. 3 Anonymous March 11, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    your photographs are amazing!!! did you cook up clams with coconut?

  3. 5 Anonymous June 16, 2013 at 7:46 am

    I am so glad you had such a wonderful time in our beautiful part of the country. It was lovely having you both stay.


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