3rd Apr 2013 - New Zealand 3
West Coast - Punakaiki and Tauranga Bay
Woke up to the predicted wet and windy day - lots of rain but this is the West Coast. headed out armed with umbrellas and rain jackets. Changed the itinerary slightly and headed south of Westport rather than north. The hope being that the rain would blow over for our walks tomorrow. I shant go on about the rain but just to say it stayed steady and consistent until mid afternoon.
Headed out south with the first goal being to drive to Punakaiki - Pancake Rocks. Several photo stops along the way and great for M to see a different type of NZ beauty - still stunning in the rain and wind - somewhat otherworldly at time. Surely one of the loveliest drives along coastal New Zealand. Stopped off at Charleston beach along the way - will come back here one day for a few days - fantastic swimming beach and just lovely and a camping ground - think this is the one that my mother's good friend's son owns or still owns.
Had lunch at The Punakaiki Tavern and very good it was too. Lovely setting inside - the most beautiful handmade rimu tables and chairs - I want them. Then a very short drive to Pancake Rocks.
The Pancake Rocks are limestone formations which have been millions of the year in the making - fragments of dead marine creature which then layer into the mud and clay and then raised by the action of earthquakes to form the coastal cliffs of today. The sea, wind and rain have then taken over to make what can be seen today. It is a lovely walk for up to 60 minutes depending on how much you stop and take photos - its free. Through native bush to start with - the kind I dream of and miss so much - then into the spectacular views of sky and sea and cliffs and magical rock formations. Everyone the same but different - so many photos and lots to look at. There is a right time to visit - high tide I think - to see the blowholes work their wonders. We were there either slightly too early or late as although we saw the blowholes in action they weren't as spectacular as I remember when I was a child.
Decided to forgo other walks in the area and headed back north to the Seal colony at Tauranga Bay. We were very fortunate that the clouds parted and a bit of sun and no rain whilst here. A 10-15 minute walk to the main lookout to see kekeno - NZ pointy nosed fur seals. They were basking in the autumn sun and having a wonderful time. Quite different scenery and behind us the rolling countryside of the West Coast so green compared with the dramatic greys and blues of the cliffs and ocean. Walked further along the path until we had enough and turned back. you can keep going and do what is called the Cape Foulwind walkway - one day... Back to the car with M fascinated by the wekas (birds) that are everywhere - so curious.
Headed back to Westport with a tikitour along the way via Carters Beach. Decided to save a bit of money and go to the supermarket rather than out for dinner - 2 lamb chops, potato salad and lettuce/tomatoes cost the same as going out cheaply. I nearly died at the cost of the medium pottle of potato salad - $9. However by this time I wasn't going to change my mind as M and I were at that tired delicate stage - in a supermarket on holiday neither of us knowing what we wanted to eat - get what you want, no get what you want and so on.
Bit of telly and then an early night hoping for the clear skies to continue for our big day tomorrow.
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