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Published: June 10th 2018
Our drive to Greymouth today was full of anticipation - we had received the good news that our consignment had finally been delivered! So with homes to find for a lot of extra kit, and several camera batteries to charge, we planned a short day. Our first stop took us to a Seal Colony at Cape Foulwind - the name of the place explained the crashing waves! A beautiful spot lined by snow capped mountains in the far distance. A handful of seals, mothers and pups of about six months, were well camouflaged by the dark rocks and some distance away.
The second stop of the journey took us to Pancake Rocks, at Punakaiki. Limestone formations, once under the sea themselves, hold their own in solid forms, stacks and arches in the raging sea. To this day, scientists still have not fathomed how these soft rocks took their layered shape. When the tide is at it's highest, the force of the water pushes trapped air through large eroded spaces forming blow holes. The soft limestone, ever eroding in these angry waters, had formed caves under the surrounding hills in years gone by.
The purpose of a stop at Greymouth
- a very industrial and not so pretty place - was it's proximity to Arthur's Pass. This pass, spanning West to East, heads over the mountains to Christchurch, eventually. Being our first opportunity to hike in the heart of the mountains, out of the bush or treeline, we chose a route from just outside Arthur's Pass Village to Temple Basin Skifield. This was a long, hard climb over loose rocks and later icy snow where it had melted and frozen again; the pass having been closed just three days earlier for heavy snow. The bright blue, cloudless skies gave the most stunning of views into the mountains opposite as we rose, so magical to start to see such towering peaks again. The ski area at the top consists of just two drag lifts that seem to service a large bowl of black and blue runs. The downside, despite being fully serviced, this is a walk-in ski area as only NZ appears to have.
We had seen leaflets for Lake Brunner in one of the i-site stops, and being close to the end of the pass we took the chance to see it in the late afternoon's good light. An
incredibly picturesque and calm lake, stunning reflections, with the most peaceful freedom camp spot right there. The next morning, not wishing to rush away from this lovely spot, and with walks to be had in the area, we took the chance for a slow start and some more exercise before moving on...
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