After our time at Abel Tasman, we made our way to Glenhope to stay for the night. The hostel had a great warm fire and even a record player. The next day we headed out to our destination. While driving towards Greymouth, we stopped and took a picture of the the Buller Gorge Swingbridge which is 110 meters long. See picture below. The drive to Greymouth was very scenic as we drove through the edge of the Kahurangi National Park which had some great views of the mountains.
While in Greymouth, we stayed at a hostel for a week and worked for our accommodation. It was a pretty sweet deal as we got lots of cool perks. Duties included tidying up the hostel and reception duties. The manager left the hostel in our hands while he took off for a few days. The hostel was quiet so it wasn't a hard task to do.
Monteiths Brewery Tour
Greymouth is the biggest center on the West coast but we quickly found out how sleepy it is as all the shops are closed by 5:00 pm and there wasn't much to do in the evening. One business that keeps
the small city booming is the Monteiths Brewery. It employs about twenty local people and brews up all the Monteith's cider for New Zealand. We started out on the tour learning about the history of the brewery and had the chance to see the process that goes into making a bottle of beer. At the end of the tour, we sampled all the selections Monteiths makes plus our two favourite beers . All in all it was a great tour!
Once the weather cleared up, we headed to Punakaiki to see the world famous Pancake Rocks. Punakaiki National Park is along the seaside of the highway halfway between Greymouth and Westport. A short walk from the car park takes you out to veiwpoints of the pancake rock cliffs that this park is famous for. Where the cliffs had been eroded to cylindrical towers they did look exactly like tall stacks of pancakes. The area is comprised of even thickness layers of sedimentary rock for several hundred meters along the coast. Variable erosion of the cliffs has left large tidal whirlpools, and several blowholes. Unfortunately we were a few hours early for the high tide show. The Kiwi's apparently have
yet to come up with an explanation for these formations.
After a week in Greymouth, we decided to hit the road and see more of the West coast.
Our first destination was Franz Josef Glacier to see the remarkable Glacier. It was again raining pretty hard, so we drove on through to Fox Glacier, hoping the weather would clear. As this was the last destination for awhile, we ended up buying gas at 199.9 a litre. We were not able to go on the trail due to a rock slide. We drove up to the base of the trail and saw the end of the glacier. This looked completely out of place surrounded by rainforest, but the waterfalls in the cliffs were spectacular due to the recent heavy rains.
From the Glaciers we drove on down the west coast to Haast. We stopped several times along the way to take in the spectacular views from the rest stops perched atop seaside cliffs. There were several glimpses of otherworldly beaches that we found to be completely unreachable from land.
Just before Haast we turned out to Haast Beach. The beachside hamlet had about three houses and the
It was closed due to a slide
beach was beautiful, but we were quickly swarmed by sand flies and decided to head back to the street. We stopped to check and sure enough the gas (or petrol, for anyone not from North America) was the most expensive we had seen, ever, anywhere, at 201.9 per litre.
We found a hostel in town and played a revenge match of Monopoly to pass the rainy evening, before heading inland the next morning.
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