Published: November 25th 2005November 20th 2005
Rich and I got up early and met Alison, Andre’s wife, who cooked us a delicious breakfast featuring bacon and eggs, homemade muesli with freshly-made yoghurt, tomatoes from the garden. I tried some Vegemite on toast - VERY salty and definitely a taste I’m not likely to acquire. Then our fellow guests Penny and Greg arose, and it turned out they were from Santa Barbara so we were an all-California contingent.
The property was wonderful - great vistas, lovely gardens, very warm hospitality. One mistake Rich and I made was not discovering the chocolates in the bathroom before turning on the powerful bathroom heater…
As we enjoyed the common room, Alison excused herself to feed the calves. Penny and Greg said goodbye and hit the road, and about ½ hour later we said our goodbyes to Andre and headed out.
First stop: the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks. These are layered limestone rocks under which the rough Tasman Sea has carved a series of caves, tunnels and blowholes. At high tide the sea comes crashing in and spurts up through the blowholes with great displays of foam and piping mist. It was so beautiful we walked around it twice: pre-lunch and then post-lunch,
Rich on a West Coast beach
How are those sandfly bites feeling today, Rich?
right at high tide. With my lunch I tried my first L&P soda (lemon and paeroa), a refreshing Kiwi soft drink that’s less sweet and syrupy than most.
Then it was on to Hokitika where we shopped for jade jewelry. Gary found a $15 necklace that seemed to be too good to be true and almost was. Back on the road he realized they’d charged him $30 for it, so we went back and he had to argue strongly to get the right price, as they said “it doesn’t LOOK like a $15 piece of jade.”
I then led us on a wild goose chase in search of the Hokitika Gorge in the rain - thanks to one downed road sign we never did find it. But Ben got the pleasure of hitting a dead end on a country road and having to turn around in close quarters in the rain. As we slowly negotiated the U-turn next to a cow pasture, Ben yelled out “Hello!” to the curious cows and they all started ambling over to take a better look. We zipped away, Ben having earned the new title “The Cow Whisperer”.
Rain, rain and more rain all the
Mike on a beach
Hmm...can I make it back before high tide?
way down the West Coast, until we finally reached Franz Josef and our aptly-named Rainforest Retreat hotel. Being wet and tired, we decided to eat at the facility’s bar/restaurant which was also aptly named: Monsoon. “When it rains, we pour” and they did. We had a nice chat with two people we sat next to: a young woman and her hus-dad (we weren’t sure what kind of pair they were until she quite pointedly introduced him as her dad). Then it was back to our “tree lodge” for some wine and a deep sleep with the sound of rain pounding on the roof all night. We’re not sure if our heli-hike on the glacier is going to be possible tomorrow…
There are more photos below