Posted by: Wink | January 29, 2011

From East to West

We took an 8am boat from Awaroa Lodge back to where we embarked two days ago in Katieritieri. We had a long ride, all morning, to the west coast, or what they like to call the “wet” coast because the hot winds from Australia come over the ocean, gather moisture and dump rain on the west coast. This is the area where the gold rush occurred in the 1850’s, but now it is very unpopulated. In fact, just 30,000 people live on the west coast of NZ out of a total population of under 4 million people (1 million on the south island). (An amazingly tiny population – resulting in very little development pressure.)

The drive took us through orchards (apple and kiwi) and hops are grown here as well. We stopped for some fresh fruit ice cream along the way and then for lunch in the town of Murchison. We drove along the Buller River – the roads here are lined with beautiful orange irises (see photo) and In the mid-afternoon, we arrived at Cape Foulwind where we hiked down to a beach and through a cave with incoming tide to another beach. Then we walked along the headlands which were reminiscent of coastal California except the vegetation is so different. Here there are lots of enormous NZ flax plants that have huge black seed pods and look like enormous succulents. We had some sprinkles of rain while we saw the “pancake rocks” in Paparoa National Park. These rocks are limestone and mudstone in alternating layers. Over time, the mudstone is washed away leaving only the limestone which makes them look like gigantic piles of thin pancakes.

We had planned to have a barby on the beach, but the rain intervened, so we’ll do that tomorrow night. We are in a fantastic lodge tonight, the Punakaiki Resort which is right on the beach with breaking waves. We had a delicious dinner in a dining room that was all glass overlooking the ocean (while we also did our laundry). Our room also overlooks the surf. Wow!

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