New Zealand, 2008
Pages 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10
11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 |
Jump to Part 2
The West Coast, Hokitika to Westport
On Monday, February 25, we left Hokitita, bound for Rapahoa, just
47 kilometres away, north of Greymouth. Greymouth is the largest
town on the west coast, and it gets a bad rap from tour guidebooks
and from some Kiwis as well. In fact, warehouses, trucking depots,
lumber yards, cement plants and other such businesses have to be
located somewhere, and in this part of New Zealand, they are in
Greymouth. We stopped only to shop and to have Wally's eyeglass
frames fixed, but the people we met so briefly were delightful,
and we didn't feel that Greymouth was a bad place at all.
Industry and business in Greymouth
The weather was changeable when we left town for the
few remaining kilometres to Rapahoa. We were headed there because we'd
been told the holiday park there was nice. In fact, we didn't much care
for it, but it was on a beach that was simply spectacular, especially
beneath the ever-changing sky, and the walkways were all lined with incredible,
brightly coloured, rounded rocks that had been garnered from the beach
On the beach at Rapahoa
Massive monoliths offshore
|On the 26th, we planned another short ride because
we wanted to stop for a day at Punakaiki, known in New Zealand for
its "Pancake Rocks" and also for beautiful walking trails.
The 38-kilometre ride to Punakaiki was one of the best of the trip
so far. The weather was changeable again, fair when we started (right),
then rapidly darkening (below).
|At a viewpoint, when it was getting chilly and
rain was threatening, we stopped to take the photo above. A friendly
Kiwi family who had parked at the same overlook (right) invited
us into their camper for tea and coffee.
When we resumed our ride, the sun came out and
the skies turned blue. There was a series of short but steep hills
along the coast.
||Climbing the hills was more than worth the effort
because they offered one grand ocean view after another.
Punakaiki did not disappoint. A nicely designed, paved
walkway winds through the rocks, and there are marvelous views like that
The Pancake Rocks
Some people see faces of a man and a woman
in these formations.
Shags on the rocks
When we arrived, the tide was high and the waves were rough, which
is ideal. There are views down into chasms like that to the left.
Turbulent seas burst through blowholes, below, sometimes soaking
In the evening, sunset on the beach near our campground
The next day, we spent a couple of hours
on a walk along the Pororari River. We saw kayakers, and we heard lots
of birds, but saw only a bold robin.
Pesky Robin checking out Barbara's sandal
Along the river ...
... and through the woods
|At Punakaiki, the cyclists we've been meeting were
together again at the campsite Dave and Jo from England, Martin
and Francziska from Switzerland plus a delightful couple from
Holland, Maurice and Corine (right), who were riding the coolest
(and most expensive) recumbents we've seen yet. Wally had a chance
to ride Corine's for a few yards in the campground, and it was quite
a bike. Maurice seemed a little skeptical that we would actually like
our Rans recumbents! Then again, their Rohloff hubs cost almost as
much as our complete bicycles!
On Thursday, February 28 after two nights with very
little sleep (the first due to bright lights and the second due to incredibly
rowdy partyers who made noise until 5:30 AM), we cycled from Punakaiki
to Westport. This 60-kilometer ride was, if possible, even more beautiful
than the ride from Rapahoa to Punakaiki.
There were some more difficult hills, one
called Perpendicular Point (an intimidating name) and another called Pakihi
Hill, that was actually harder. Of course, without the hills we wouldn't
have had the wonderful views. There were also beautiful beaches, said
to be too dangerous for swimming, but delightful for wading and splashing
View from Pakihi Hill
Taking a break on the beach
|For part of the day we rode with Maurice and Corine.
Their recumbents were clearly faster than ours or could it
have been that the riders were 30 to 40 years younger than us? In
any event, we all made it to Westport at about the same time.
Maurice and Corine rocking along
Cycling so beautiful that it's ridiculous!
We arrived in Westport on Thursday
afternoon. It's the norhternmost major town on the west coast. Like
Greymouth, Westport also gets fairly low marks from some of the
guidebooks, but we quite liked it. A sign on the outskirts of town
says it all.
Dave and Jo along with their friend Mark, Maurice and Corine
were also at the campground in Westport; Martin and Francziska
had gone east over the mountains from Greymouth.
The big surprise was that we checked email and learned that Ken
and Annie Matzner from Montpelier were in town just a few blocks
away! We left a message at their hostel, and they came by the
campsite in the evening. Better, they returned with their rental
car in the morning, and we all went for a drive.
Ken and Annie, with Barbara in the flax
With Ken and Annie we visited Cape Foulwind and the nearby seal colony.
Baby fur seals playing in a tidal pool
Horses near Cape Foulwind
From Cape Foulwind
We also drove toward Karamea, at the top
of the dead-end coastal road. We didn't go the whole way, just far enough
to convince Barbara and me that it would have been more work by bicycle
than it was worth.
|On the road to Karamea, however, there were a couple
of neat places that we'd probably not have visited by bike. One was
a walk along a small river near the hamlet of Seddonville (right).
The other was Gentle Annie Beach (below). It was great fun
to spend time with Ken and Annie, whom we know from the Montpelier
Cohousing group. And we covered so much ground in a day, traveling
by car! But in some ways, it made us realize that we prefer touring
From Gentle Annie Beach
Ken and Annie dropped us back at the Wesport Holiday
Park for our second night there. The next morning, when we had planned
to leave, there was a steadily increasing downpour, though as yet with
no winds. A lake was threatening to inundate our tent so we moved inside.
As we write this on Saturday, March 1, it's beginning to seem that we
may be here for another day. When we leave whenever that turns
out to be we'll be heading northeast, away from the west coast
and toward to northern end of South Island.