West Coast - Karamea, Oparara Basin & Heaphy track

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Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » West Coast » Karamea
January 23rd 2010
Published: February 12th 2010EDIT THIS ENTRY

Arrived at Kohaihai (most Northerly point of the West coast by car) in anticpation of 2 days of the Heaphy track. Only to find that the day of the walk there was a severe weather warning with thunder and lightning and we were unable ot leave (Dan I know you would have gone anyway but I know how lost you were in that Argentine forest!). Time for plan B, spoke to the isite ladies who I think had gone West a number of years ago and considered plan B the Oparara basin!

Arranged a guided tour through the infamous limestone (Kaast) honeycomb hill caves, a unique landscape formed through millions of years of undisturbed isolation. We spent the afternoon exploring this and the impressive arches to which no photo can do justice, if interested check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oparara_Basin_Arches they are really cool. In the caves is also the remains of 4 type of Moa birds and it is said that also Haast Eagle bones have been found here, a massive now extinct Eagle that preyed on giant Moa approx. 600 yrs ago with a wingspan of up to 4m, it would take on the Moa which was 15 times its body weight! There are a number of arches in the basin named a number of years ago with Lord of the RIngs names (before the films) and consisted of Moria Arch, Oparara arch and the Mirror Tarn. Although the mirror effect of the tarn was there it was still raining so shots werent as good as I imagine they can be!

The following day the weather had cleared, we took a day hike out to Scotts Beach on the Heaphy track and then took in a loop circuit amongst the Nikau palm trees. The West coast is sand fly territory and believe us they take no prisoners hence wearing so many clothes in all the piccies. Believe us we were sweating like a pig but luckily for Lisa I have been on the road so long I am now self cleaning (hmmm)

From here we visited Cape FoulWind lighthouse near Westport which is now unmanned. I feel sorry for the ex-lighthouse keepers who have been uprooted by technology, what possibly could they do afterwards?? Luckily google has the answers and apparently they are beacons for marine safety (boom boom). The Cape is West of Westport hence Cooks naming as foulwind due to the smell that always blows west. We camped at a nice place down the road from the Tuaranga bay seal colony and then got on first name terms with the fur seals the following day.

Arrived at Punakaiki at high tide to take in the pancake rocks, they also sold real pancakes but at 6 quid a pop (not even with maple syrup) we thought they had rocks in their head! When the high tide comse in it enters small chambers where dramatic waves are created and at certain time blowholes through which the water if forced at high pressure, it was certainly impressive.

Took a detour to Arthurs pass village to admire the scenic drive and get some shots of Alpine Kea birds. Although its rated by a lot of peole we felt it wasnt as impressive as some of the mountains in the Nelson region. Although I imagine its stunning during thealpine season.

Onwards to Hokitika in time to witness the annual driftwood comp on the beach. You can see Lisa on last years winning sculpture in the pics. Further along the beach taking a romantic stroll we found ourselves being shot at by crzed kiwis shouting to duck down and get out of the way from the flying golf balls. We found ourselves in the middle of the annual charity gold tournament. Apparently you pay $25 and get a trolley filled up with beer and golf balls and you tee off anywhere along the 3 miles of beach (we decided to join in though felt sorry for the glass fronted luxury aprtments that line the beach!) Obviously this goes on in parallel with the sculpture construction which in typical kiwi style add a certain danger element to both!

The evening was enjoyed eating blue cod and chips and going to the Crooked Mile talking movies (boutique cinema with leather couches which you sit back and enjoy a movie whilt sipping on a glass of wine or a beer, very civilised!) Obviously we watched a British film about Morris dancers???? cause that what we all do right....

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