West Coast and Golden Bay

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March 13th 2009
Published: March 13th 2009
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i really enjoy these signs. especially coming through just after a heavy rain. NO STOPPING for half a kilometer? good luck ... also it was a boulder/scree slope.
i've started doing some relaxing on my trip and it's been fantastic.

as it turns out i did get to go on that hike up the copland track after all. it looked like the weather was beautiful from where i was, but as my ride got closer and closer to the trailhead the weather got progressively worse. not bad enough to prohibit me heading on the walk, however. the very beginning of the track is a river crossing for which the flood bridge is a half hour hike up stream each way. so i just forded the river (only up to mid-thigh at the worse) and continued the journey with soaking wet boots. which was the way to do it, as it turns out, because i was unavoidably submerged many times throughout the rest of the hike up. it wasn't raining too badly and when i finally got into a clearing i could see that it was essentially done. the hike was rocky and muddy and wet. actually kind of dangerous and i was scared a couple of times since i was out completely alone. and i didn't see another soul. the hike was really beautiful, but the real reason
mmmm possum!mmmm possum!mmmm possum!

possums are everywhere here, and the natives are seriously hating on them. hating on all mammals actually since they are ALL introduced species and are destroying the native wildlife (plants and KIWIS). in the end ... i ate a possum pie. it was good.
to go up was for the hot springs at the hut. eventually a number of people showed up that night, some other americans and a bunch of israelis. we all went out to the springs and sat there under the moon watching the shooting stars and chatting. it was excellent. especially after a relatively long hiking day.

anyway. met a couple of americans and ended up traveling up the coast with them. they were fun, college kids from oregon and washington. maybe we'll meet up someday. we're facebook friends now, anyhow. we stopped in puke... something, i don't remember. it's got a population of 2 and serves "road kill pies," we had possum pies for 3 dollars new zealand. that's about 1.50 u.s. in case you don't know the conversion. didn't taste half bad, actually.

i left them when they turned inland and i decided i wanted to stay on the coast at the last minute and headed up to punakaiki. i needed to just unwind and that's what i did. i met people, played games, and just generally chilled out. the town doesn't even have a supermarket so when i decided i was going to stay i
pancake rockspancake rockspancake rocks

i stayed in punekaiki for about ... five days? it was a nice respite on the beach. i didn't do too much, mostly sat around out in the sun. hit the beach, tried to play chess, successfully played jenga, did some laundry, skipped some stones.
had to hitch a ride down to greymouth for groceries so i could eat. my accomodations were right on the beach so i got to stare at the tasman sea all day and saw some lovely sunsets.

i headed up to golden bay from there where i've been up until today. i stayed in takaka. it's a little hippie community that i'm convinced only survives on the tourist trade. i got on a bike for the first time since i came here and biked on the left side of the road and managed to not get hit. i went to many many beaches, biked big hills, saw an AWESOME cave, saw a baby wild pig, drove up to the north north north of the south island to see the farewell spit (look up pictures on google, i can't do it justice with my camera) and up to the wangatieri (?) beach. it was extremely windy but exceedingly beautiful.

my last night in town we went up to collingwood, six of us piled into a five-seater car, and drove to the mussel inn. it's the golden bay music venue. there was a blue grass band playing (who would have
espresso boatespresso boatespresso boat

legend has it this boat belonged to jacques cousteau. now the owner sells espresso drinks at the wharf. it was lovely. this is in pohara. i spent a whole day on the beach and the docks ... sunburn!
thought?) so we were there all night stomping and knee-slapping. it was excellent. and the first blue grass experience for the brits and the japanese who were with us.

right now i'm with two english fellows in nelson lakes national park, i'm heading out on a five day hike in the morning and they're moving onward. one of them has convinced himself he's going to marry me and we're going to live happily every after in his narrow boat in the canals of england. we all have our dreams i suppose.


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rawhiti caverawhiti cave
rawhiti cave

this cave is outside takaka (where i stayed for 5 nights?) it was incredible. i went with a couple of guys from the u.k., you can just see steve at the bottom of the photo to give it a little scale. i climbed down farther than i should have and got a little scared.

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