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Published: April 8th 2016
R: Our plans worked. We drove into the Christchurch car hire place and found Dave lurking in the car park, and Shannon sensibly hanging out in the office. It was raining after all. After a quick switch over of bags from one vehicle to the other, we were off in the RAV4 towards Springfield - which is a tiny hamlet with a pie shop, and a giant concrete model of a frosted donut, built to celebrate the Simpsons movie coming out, and it just sort of stuck. We headed on up towards Arthur's pass, which takes you over the centre of the South Island, and down to the West coast. As we did so, the weather closed in and the cloud level dropped...
We stopped at Castle Hill, which has an impressive array stones sticking out of the hillside that look quite like massive Tors. It was quite an eerie setting, especially with the cloud gathering around the valley. We had a little explore, and were particularly impressed that the department of conservation had hidden a single Portaloo in the centre of them. Apparently others found them slightly eerie too - they were used for the filming of
the Narnia films. After a good catch up over a pie picnic, we headed on. Dave and Shannon have (sadly for us...) got all the driving to themselves on this section as we aren't on the insurance so it has been quite nice to sit back and see the world go by in a way you don't get to experience if you are the driver.
After Castle Hill, it was off to Arthur's pass where a short visit was made to the I-site and warmer clothing purchased for the Australian contingent, then we headed up on a one hour waterfall walk. It was a double cascade waterfall with impressive height, and spray! The temptation to jump over the "danger fence" like others had done did appear, but we decided to be good, as we didn't need to get any closer to get the full force of the spray.
From here it was a fairly scenic drive down to Greymouth via a road carved into the rock face with chutes over the top to reroute the waterfalls over the road. By now the weather was abysmal, so it looked even more dramatic. As we arrived
in Greymouth, it was, indeed, grey! Our hostel was a Noah's ark theme so we each got allocated an animal themed room (zebras for us, and elephants for Dave and Shannon). They were themed right down to the bedding, wall paintings and stuffed toys on the bed...
After the briefest of,looks around Greymouth (it doesn't take long!!), we found that we were the only people on the street. So we headed into the Monteith's brewery which is where all the people were. We had a tasting board, including their pressed ciders, but really weren't that impressed. It did seem to be the only thing open and it was pouring with rain, so I still think we made the right choice.
Next day we travelled down the coast as far as Fox Glacier. But first we headed north to the Punakaiki pancake rocks. Here there is a series of mudstone and limestone layered rocks on a very exposed bit of coastline surrounded by jungly flax plants and the full force of the sea periodically crashes into them causing water to blast through blow holes with a massive boom. Quite amazing. After a brief honey tasting
stop in the gift shop, we were off again.
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