Published: February 27th 2011January 24th 2011
Seal at Kaikoura #2
Southern Fur Seal basking on a rock at Kaikoura. © Adrianne Yzerman
Still a struggling with a body clock still stuck on Perth time it is difficult to wake at 0700, but we have a long day's driving ahead through the Lewis Pass on on to Punakaiki on the West Coast. Our first stop is the seal colony just out of Kaikoura which we ran out of time for yesterday afternoon. At least the weather is marginally better. I couldn't believe these cute little critters were all over the car park. I have never seen seals so close up. One has to be careful though. They look as harmless as your pet dog but the signs say keep your distance. If they feel threatened they can be savage just like any wild animal. If we had something like this at home the seals would all be protected behind a big electric fence to stop idiots from getting in harms way. I take some good pix which I should be happy with. Don't think my pathetic 250mm lens is really gonna cut it with the the cover of National Geographic though. I get the hint from the family who were rather impatiently waiting for me in the car, that it is time to move
Seal at Kaikoura #1
Southern Fur Seal in the carpark at the seal colony in Kaikoura. © Adrianne Yzerman
Dodging some rather uncomfortable and cumbersome looking land lubber seals on the way out of the car park we are off to greener pastures and in hindsight I'm happy to say yesterday was the lowest point of the holiday so it's good to get that out of the way to begin with. As we snake our way up into the mountains, constantly ooohing and aaahing at the vista that surrounds us at every turn. By this stage all the bad weather had dissapated and there are beautiful clear blue skies. Being sheep farmers in Western Australia, we are always amazed at fencing going up some mountain so high that we have to stick our heads out the window just to see the top of. Imagine trying to round up your sheep here I keep saying. I must say it is becoming quite evident why there are so many sheep jokes about New Zealanders, it's all we ever see since we've been here. Every paddock is crammed full of the woolly blighters making our stocking rates shockingly embarrassing.
I'm glad we left with plenty of time to spare as it takes a good 3.5 hours to get to
Seal at Kaikoura #3
Close up of a Southern Fur Seal at Kaikoura. Severely cropped but what option do I have with only a 250mm lense! © Adrianne Yzerman
Hamner Springs. On the map it looked to my West Aussie brain (everywhere you go takes on average 1 hour per 100km) about only an hours drive. Our average speed isn't very high due to many hairpin bends, valleys and steep rises. We only stop once at a sign which we have a chuckle over. It is a fire risk warning sign and the arrow is on extremely dangerous. We had to take photos of it to remind us why it was funny. Basically at home on a day like this it would be an extremely low fire danger. A reminder over what is normal in one country is extremely abnormal in another. It is on the way to Hamner Springs that I had discover forgetful husband left about $50 worth of groceries behind in the fridge at Alpine View Lodge. It was a bit too soon after the key incident yesterday, so it doesn't take long for my anger to smolder once again. So our first job is to shop in the local 4 Square to replenish our sacrificed supplies, and of course due to the relative remoteness of the place, we pay twice the price for everything which
Picnic at Hamner Springs
Feathery friends at our picnic in Hamner Springs. © Adrianne Yzerman
adds insult to injury. $7 dollars for a small tub of butter and $9 for a tub of yoghurt is permanently etched in my scumbag backpacker memory.
The oak lined streets mark the entrance into Hamner Springs which is just a short drive off the main road to the West Coast. We find a lovely picnic spot next to a small lake right in town and I really felt like I was back in Switzerland with the quaint little wood and stone featured split story homes set against a back drop of scenic mountains. The only thing missing is the snow. We soon have a flock of feathery spectators surround us, so we fed them our left overs. It is starts to get very hot and we have to shed some clothing and wished we had our shorts on. The weather is simply glorious. We are on the road again at 1330 as we are only a third of our way to our destination, but not without stopping to take a snap of the beautiful scene of bridge over the Waiau River just out of town. With a name like Lewis Pass I was expecting a lot more twists
Bridge over Waiau River at Hamner Springs. © Adrianne Yzerman
and bends in the road, however the highway has a lot of straight stretches so that we are making good time, but the thing is you never know what the roads are going to be like around the corner.
We stop at Reefton to stretch our legs. The Inangahua River passes through Reefton, so rather than just stare out the window and marvel at the incredible rocky rivers way down in the valleys, it is nice to be able to clamber over the sea of river rocks for closer inspection. It's a novelty to begin with, but then we soon realise that the whole of the South Island is riddled with rivers, streams, lakes and rocks. The boys throw rocks into the Inangahua river making them skip on the surface. The town itself is nothing remarkable. Driving out of town it simply looked like a poor struggling mining town. We reach Punakaiki at 1730 and check into the Paparoa Motel which is about 1km south of the Paparoa National Park. It's situated on top of a hill overlooking the coast. While we can't see this from out cottage, a short walk through a hidden overgrown tropical path takes us to a wonderful look out on the property. The accommodation is fantastic, very spacious with 2 bedrooms and cute Weka birds wondering around. They are a flightless woodhen and waste no time feasting on our bread, pasta and apricots.
Our cottage is hidden away and backs right up against the tropical forest. We put a load of washing on and then back tracked a kilometre to see the Pancake Rocks. While they are nice, they aren't as impressive as I'd imagined. The coast line was pretty. Unfortuneatley we get there a bit too early to take any nice pictures as the sun is still too high in the sky. It doesn't occur to me to go back later as I'm still getting my head around this day light savings. I could have easily gone back at 2100. The lady at reception told us about a place called Shanty Town which the kids would love so we might go there tommorrow on our way to Fox Glacier. It's just south of Greymouth where the Pike River coal mine disaster happened just recently. She also told us about the glow worm grotto on the property. I keep the kids up late till about 2230 when it was really dark so we could go see it. I don't why I bothered, the kids didn't seem that interested, and we were so knackered.