From sunshine to threatening skies,coast to coast,Akaroa to Westport


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Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » Westport
September 26th 2020
Published: September 27th 2020
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We managed another 'sleep-in' but still beat the sun rising over the hills of Akaroa to be up and about ready for a long day on the road.

Today we meet up with family,who we will call 'The Hoofs' to shorten any description as the blogs unfold over the next few days while they join us on the roadtrip for 5 nights.So we need to be up and on the road aiming to meet The Hoofs after their flight arrives around 9.30am in Christchurch and they pick up their rental car and head for the meeting point of Darfield.

No breeze at all this morning meant we could have breakfast on our terrace and watch the morning walkers as they strolled along the waterfront,many of them exercising their dog or in quite a few instances,dogs.

Our planned departure time was 9am and the Toyota Corolla played along with the plan and we drove slowly out of the quaint little 'French style' village towards the winding hill section of highway that takes you out of the volcanic caldera that is now a deep water harbour.

We passed a number of motor bike riders heading towards Akaroa as we travelled around the harbour,all of whom were out for their Saturday ride to test their machines and riding skills on the challenging corners.Opposing the riders on the relatively flat and sweeping corners as we drove around the bays was a better prospect that meeting the riders on the hill travelling either up or down as here we expected them to take a bit more 'risk' in the venture of a bit more of a 'thrill' to themselves.

As it turned out any of the motorbike riders that did pass us on the hill were all well behaved and no evasive driving action was required.

Down onto the flat and we soon headed towards Burnham to cross Highway One and then a road as straight as an arrow all the way to Darfield with all the while the snow capped Southern Alps getting closer and closer.

We arrived at the planned meeting place of the Darfield Bakery a few minutes before the Hoofs drove in.Replenished with sandwiches,sweet treats and drinks for lunch and a family sized steak pie for dinner tonight and we were on our way again,this time in convoy.

We got a reasonable way towards Arthurs Pass, which is the summit of the highway before road heads down the western side of the mountains to the West Coast,before splatters of rain indicated that a picnic lunch outside the car wasn't going to be on today.

The rain was coming in horizontally as we lunched at the overlook for the impressive Otira Viaduct opened in 1999 to replace the winding road which hugged the mountainside up the shortest but steepest section of the highway to the main divide.Gretchen and some of the Hoofs donned rainwear and spent a few brief moments admiring the view before they realised the futility of staying out there too long in the inclement weather.

Moving on the rain stopped and weather overall eased as we cruised past the NZ famous Kumara racecouse and down to the Tasman Sea at Kumara Junction where the Coast to Coast race is held between one side of the island and the other in February each year.It is amazing to think of those that take on the run,cycling and paddling not to forget the clambering over the rocks and boulders where the 'track'follows one of the many rivers to be traversed.Many of the participants take 2 days to complete the journey with the real hardy souls doing it the whole way in a day starting at dawn and finishing at New Brighton beach in Christchurch sometime around or after sunset.

As we were heading to lesser populated places for the next 3 days than the town of Greymouth which was next in our path,we took the opportunity of doing supermarket shopping for supplies at Countdown.

Who would have thought that finding the entrance to Countdown,Greymouth would have been that difficult when we could see the building below us as we drove over the Grey River finding that on the other side there was of course no entrance to the supermarket back where we had just come from.It does make you wonder how many locals have a laugh at visitors to the town who make this very same mistake because they didn't get in the right lane or follow the signs.

Shopping done it was back over the Grey River and on our way to a short stop at Punakaiki to take in the famous rock formation over seas that pound in especially when a westerly wind is blowing making a booming noise as the water hits the roofs of the caverns open to the ocean.And today we expected that the quickly dropping air pressure from the coming 'weather bomb' would provide a spectacular result.

Not to be ! A combination of a low tide at around the time we arrived and a 'weather bomb' still well off shore meant that it was just an 'average' sea running and no booming of the waves which didn't reach the roofs of the open caverns as they rolled in.

Heading on the last leg to Westport,our stay for the next 2 nights,the weather out to sea gave the impression that it was about to close in but we reached our destination without rain actually falling and the wind still at a moderate speed.

We hunkered down for night in our 1970's motel complex recalling the accommodations we used to travel to and stay when we were all a bit younger(other than the youngest 2 Hoofs,that is).

What might happen overnight with the 'weather bomb' remains to be seen,but the 3 bed motel unit looked just as solid today as it did when it was built and we are far enough back from the Buller River that runs through the town not to be flooded out if the anticipated rain reaches epic proportions.

Tomorrows plans include the bush train at Charleston,seal colony,Cape Foulwind and Denniston but all are dependant upon the 'weather bomb' and how long it lasts.

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