I Don’t Have the Words for New Zealand.
In this instance, how to describe the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island? How many times can a person use words like beautiful, stunning, breath-taking, and awe-inspiring before becoming repetitive? I really don’t have the words to describe all that we saw on this recent leg of our trip, but I’ll give it a shot.
Thanks to everyone who passed on suggestions and ideas; that made it even harder to narrow things down!! With only about two weeks between house sits, we had to pick and choose what we could see. There is far too much for such a short visit.
(Maps gives different distances for this trip, depending on how we calculate it; we think it was more like 1,420km. Roughly 1,280 of those kms were narrow, twisty roads or single lane roads & bridges. Pro tip: always toot your horn when going around blind corners on single lane roads).
The ferry from Wellington to Picton took us across Cook Straight, past Arapawa Island, past rocky coves, and into Picton Harbour. This was one of those times when the journey is about more than the destination.
(click on any image to enlarge)
The day was bright and clear, the scenery gorgeous, the wind ridiculous! Parents held onto their children to keep them from being blown over. Scarves, hair, and skirts were whipped around, and the railings were gripped tightly. At times, the decks were abandoned completely. Eventually, we’d all move back outdoors to soak in the views.
Picton, is a pretty harbour town of about 3,000 people. Many people jump off the ferry and hit the road, but staying a couple of nights gave us the chance to see a little bit of New Zealand’s flagship wine region, Marlborough. Vines were first planted here in 1873; today, the region accounts for 2/3 of the country’s vineyards. Sauvignon Blanc reigns supreme, and I now have a greater appreciation for it.
Moving out to the west coast, we chose a stop at Carter’s Beach. Not featured as highly in the tourist info as the nearby Cape Foulwind and Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes, it was the perfect resting spot for seeing those more famous sights.
We’ve been trying out alternatives for accommodations. B&Bs have served us well, but at Carter’s Beach, we discovered holiday parks. We had a large, clean, modern, 2 bedroom motel room with kitchenette in a very quiet caravan park. In addition to communal kitchen, laundry, trampoline (yes, I did), and games room with air hockey and foosball (of course, we did), we had this gorgeous beach right across the road!
The serenity offered by spots like this are essential for our sanity. As with any “must see” sights, if they’re close to a car park, you get tour buses and selfie sticks up the wazoo! There’s a reason the tourist attractions are popular, but we want them all to ourselves!
Cape Foulwind Seal Colony and Lighthouse
You might think that Cape Foulwind was named in honour of the colony of Fur Seals, but no, it was actually renamed by Captain Cook (he was everywhere Down Under, I tell you). The winds of the Cape blew his poor ship, Endeavour, out to sea when he would much rather have hit land.
There is a viewing spot for the fur seals, and seeing them awkwardly flopping around on the rocks was quite sweet. As we’d been warned, they were pretty far away. The lighthouse is another draw. There is a lighthouse; not the 1876 original, but a rather uninspiring concrete structure.
While neither of those attractions truly pushed our buttons, the walk from one to the other (which very few people chose to do) was beautiful! Give us a coastal cliff walk and we’re happy. Throw in a good steep climb or two, and it’s even better!
Punakaiki Pancake Rocks & Blow Holes
As I understand it, 30 milion years ago, dead marine creatures were deposited on the sea bed, covered by layers of mud, and layers of more dead creatures. Boom! Pancake Rocks! Absolutely enormous structures. Sort of like hoodoos of the sea.
To grasp how huge and impressive these blow holes are, you have to look at the teeny people on the path above this one. Here, you can witness the force of water eroding rock, creating these wonderous & dramatic displays. The sound of the water crashing against the rock and into the air was ridiculous.
These natural phenomena are beautiful, but as always, get me away from the crowds and show me a quiet, secluded walk on a beach or through the rain forest. That is my happy place.
Pororari River Walk
Tramping (Kiwi), hiking, walking, whatever you call it is fine. Just find a trail, put one foot in front of the other, and prepare to be amazed. This is just one of countless walks is in the Paparoa National Park.
As usual, Karen walked ahead as I stopped to examine ferns, moss, lichens, dripping water, hobbit holes in trees, and fungi fairy stools.
Mom, if you were with me, we’d never make it out of these forests.
I’ll leave you for now. It’s time to feed the chickens.
Speaking of which, you can see where we are now, on the Where Am I Now page.