Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pancake Rocks & a Flying Fox

Left Hokitika around 8am it was drizzling, we had a coffee then headed off hoping it would clear, the temp was 15 degrees not cold at all.

We stopped at Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki, it was still drizzling so we put on our coats to go see the rocks, very busy stop. It was a nice walk through the rain forest to the rocks, such a beautiful area, the rock formations were amazing.

These were formed 30 million years ago from fragments of skeletons & shells, these limestone rocks have been sculptured over time by mild acid rain, wind & sea water.

 Back to the car onwards to…well we hadn’t decided, anyway the scenery once we left the rocks was simply beautiful, the coast line had vegetation of flax & ferns to name a couple( because I don’t know the others lol.)The vegetation went right down to the stony beaches & the rocky outcrops. The right hand side had the same as well as numerous palm type trees.

 There were also a lot of little shacks tucked in amongst the bushes, thought they may be whitebait shacks. Any flat areas of land seemed to be dairy farms; we also saw paddocks of deer. We stopped at Greymouth to get a few more things being the last biggish town.

Went to the seal colony at Tauranga Bay, it was a short 500m walk which took us to a viewing platform, we had a good view of the seals & some pups, plus there was one swimming around just below us.

Flax seed pods

 Flax that someone has taken the time to plait on the track,there were a few of these done

Just in case you get lost

From here you could continue on till you got to Foulwind Lighthouse, we went back to the car & ended up stopping at the lighthouse anyway. Bit of a bonus as there were a couple of Wekas in the car park not phased by us. I had to keep moving back when trying to get a photo as the Weka kept coming closer.


 By the time we arrived at Charleston the rain looked like it was gone & the temp was 19 degrees at 11.40am.We stopped at Westport for lunch, I had a smoked fish pie ,very nice & Peter had a bacon & egg pie, it was 21 degrees now & started to rain again.

Westport was first a gold town, and then a coal town with New Zealand’s only bituminous coal mine still operating.

Kilkenny Lookout was one-way because of a huge over hanging rock called …Hawkes Crag a distinct landmark in the Lower Buller Gorge where the road is actually cut into the cliff that drops into the Buller River.

  Of course I stopped to take a photo of it. We were now following the Buller River on our right going through the Buller Gorge.

 Bit of Trivia...In 1955 uranium was discovered in the Buller region for first time and the site was about 1 kilometer from here.

They have the annual Buller Gorge Marathon in February, attracting about 3000 people & is one of the world’s most impressive marathon courses. All I can say is they must be mad, like all the people we have seen on push bikes pedaling around this country, not like its flat, especially the Westcoast.

We were getting close to Murchison when we came across the sign for the Longest Swing Bridge in New Zealand, thought we had gone past it. The bridge is 110 meters long & 17 meters high crossing the Buller River taking you to various walks & points of interest which we were going to do.

The moment I stepped onto the bridge, I was attacked by sandflies. I was slapping away like a mad thing it was awful, we had left our protection behind…big mistake.

  Disappointed about not being able to do the walk unless we were in a balaclava & boiler suit, we decided to take the flying fox back.

 Mind you, we were still being attacked while we waited to go on the flying fox, I enjoyed the ride, probably would never had done it if it wasn’t for the sandflies. I guess you could say that was a bonus then.

We stayed at Murchison for the night, the Campground was a little way out of town, ran into the couple who were parked near us at Hokitika, they weren’t happy about the sandflies or the facilities where they were parked. We were nearer the camp kitchen because we were in a car, but they were right about the sandflies. We spent most of our time in the camp kitchen to keep away from them, so I downloaded my photos, Peter read his book, then we cooked tea, prawn risotto.

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