Published: August 6th 2007June 9th 2007
Running From the Waves
Josh plays cat and mouse with the incoming waves on Scott Beach - he will later regret the wet feet.
Astrid was not on call this weekend, for the fist time in several weeks. We took the opportunity to go out to the Coast. We picked up Avery from netball in Westport. Her team had their first victory of the season. We stopped in at the seal colony at Cape Foul Wind as Astrid and Avery had missed this the last time. The weather was terrific and there were heaps of seals.
We had lunch at the Yellow House in Westport. This is the only place in New Zealand that I have seen that brews Illy coffee. Sadly, the eatery is closing for the winter. The owners who are from the U.S. are headed back to New Jersey to enjoy the fine weather back home.
After lunch, with a flat white in hand, we headed north to Karamea (the end of the road on the West Coast). The coastal road affords some spectacular views as it winds up through the mountains overlooking the Tasman Sea. In Karamea we stayed at a lodge run by the local rural nurse: the Karamea Lodge. Her husband is a Canadian from Vancouver. The lodge was first rate. Being off-season we were the only guests there.
We headed into town to the local pub (the Bush Lounge) for dinner. The food was nothing to write home about, but the ambiance and conversation with the local publican was terrific. The pub used to be his woodworking shop (before that it was the Karamea town hall built around the turn of the last century). The tables, chairs and even the long bar are fashioned out of single pieces of wood carved from huge local trees. The fireplace was formed using a modified 100 year old boiler. Interestingly, the owner was not entirely thrilled with the increase in tourism - he was concerned that New Zealand's natural beauty was being destroyed by increasing commercialization.
On Sunday we headed out on to the Heaphy Track - at 82 kms it is one of the longest of New Zealand's so called "Great Walks". Needless to say, we did not walk the entire track. We walked about an hour or so up the track to Scott Beach. The enormous beach was completely deserted and we had it all to ourselves (if you don't count the sand flies). One cannot say enough about the natural beauty and the variety of flora and fauna in New Zealand. Unfortunately, Josh didn't wear his waterproof hiking boots. He got his feet thoroughly soaked playing in the waves and covered in sand. He ended up walking barefoot back to the car - sadly not without complaint. Nevertheless, another lesson learned for our young lad.
On our way back to Reefton, we stopped in a Little Wanganui. Just off the coast there is a reef and we were told that this was an excellent beach for locating Paua shells. Paua are unique to New Zealand. This marine mollusk eats seaweed and lives clinging to rocks at depths of 1-10 meters, normally along the shoreline. Their shells are frequently washed up along the shore. The Paua shell is extremely colorful and has been used by the indigenous populations for hundreds of years to decorate their shelters and weapons. In any event, our information was not accurate. After spending quite some time, we found no sign of the precious shells. We did run into a couple of local dogs who were very friendly.