Walks and views on the way to the West coast.

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Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » Hokitika
November 25th 2007
Published: November 29th 2007
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When planning our trip with Robert, we asked for interesting walks during our driving journeys. So, on our way from Nelson to Hokitika, we stop at an abandoned rail line to walk through Kalwatiri tunnel. Stepping through the tunnel’s dark mouth, water drips onto our heads and I’m relieved to see light from the other side. To return, we take a short walk through a natural beech forest and across a bridge where crystal clear water reflects the yellow shrubs that line the shore.

At Murchison, we stop for lunch at Rivers Café, a combination restaurant, gallery and internet café. The quirky eatery used to be a gasoline station.

Reaching the West coast, we stop to view the blowholes at Punakaiki. A walk leads through thick patches of broad-leaf flax plants to wooden decks overlooking horizontally striated rock formations called pancake rocks. The area reminds me of the Oregon coast, except here, the rocks that populate the ocean sprout green vegetation. When tide conditions are right, water erupts from the blowholes in a dramatic display. Although we aren’t visiting at the prime time, the water surges around the rocks providing powerful sights and sounds.

It’s late afternoon when we reach Kapitea Ridge, our lodging for the night. Sitting high on a hill near Hokitika, the building is surrounded by gardens that look out onto the sea. Our hosts, Trixie and Murray, have filled their boutique lodge with art and sophisticated furnishings in blues and reds.

Before dinner, we enjoy wine and cheese in the glass conservatory while chatting with Trixie. Then, Robert drives us to Hokitika for dinner at Café de Paris. The lamb roast on pumpkin puree is delicious with a Pinot Noir from the owner’s vineyard.

The next morning, we wake to the sound of pounding surf and singing birds. Breakfast is served in the conservatory. A plate of cheeses and cold cuts competes with granola and other cereals for our attention. Then, it’s time for a plate of scrambled eggs, bacon and broiled tomatoes.

We stop once more in the town of Hokitika to view several artisans working at their trade. Robert guides us through a jade company explaining how the rock is mined and crafted into jewelry. Afterwards, Alan and I explore a wood carving shop, craft cooperative and finish by admiring a glassblower creating delicate Christmas ornaments.

After a “flat white,” which is quickly becoming my favorite cup of coffee, it’s time to continue our journey. Next stop…Glaciers!

To read more about Kapitea Ridge My Itchy Travel Feet .

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