Yesterday I was asked if I wanted to go on a work tour of the Settlers Museum. So this afternoon a bunch of us went along. It was bizarre going to this archives place as most of the items didn't seem that old. Oh well, that's New Zealand's history for you!
|Spot the weird something going on in this photo!|
|The view from my staff room|
After work Sabine and I picked up a signed package from a local 4 Square shop. It turned out to be Dads prize: a Rexona pack. He won a competition with The Crowd Goes Wild and got it sent to my address.
My provisional learners drivers license arrived. Eerghhhh i need a full drivers license. dammit I thought something like this could happen with the AA processing. But at least I can drive again.
We got up early and finished packing. We mostly packed last night to be honest. Its a long weekend with Monday being a bank holiday, so Sabine booked us a mini get away to Hokitika, on the west coast.
Oh yeah just when we got up, Dad was trying to Facebook us to show us the goings on in Turkey where he is. There is some type of air show going on and I could hear it, but thats about it. The video call didn't work. That was around 4am.
We left and headed north. We stopped for a coffee in the same cafe that made awesome savoury muffins once before. I've just looked it up, this cafe is adjacent to the Caltex fuel stop at Pareora. Anyway we arrived way too early and the guy was still setting up, so he didn't have any cooked today for us to eat.
We ate a Subway sandwich at Ashburton that still had the limited Lamb Sub. Its out of stock already in Dunedin. After that we started driving inland towards Arthurs Pass.
We stopped off at interesting view points of the mountains and surroundings along the way.
|Arthurs Pass, along the way|
The first real stop we came too was a waterfall just after Arthurs Pass village called The Devils Punchbowl. That was a long walk up very steep steps. On way way back we talked to a few people that stopped to photograph a few Rifleman birds. They are very small, almost egg shaped, with green wings and a white belly. Also high pitched. Incredibly cute.
|The Devils Punchbowl|
We visited the cafe in the village where about 3 Kea's were hanging out. They were close to us yet didn't want to be too involved with humans. The cafe was expensive so we moved on.
|Kea at the cafe|
We saw more Kea at a few more view points in the mountains after that.
We drove straight to Hokitika (after nearly running down a Weka) after that, and to our AirBnB, arriving after 3pm. We were met by a nice guy who owns the house. We are in the basement. He used to work in hospitality so he knows a thing or two about what to provide. Its pretty good here.
He advised us about a few walks near Lake Kaniere. So we did that. The first was called Dorothy Falls. Not a bad waterfall.
The walk to the lake was strange. There was a bench badly placed in the water which was weird but funny.
The next stop was along a 3 hour path one way. This was called Lake Kaniere Walkway. The guy at the AirBnB advised us to do this walk because of a viewing platform of the lake "15mins in". Well, we walked for 15mins, and then kept on going for a while before turning back. Sabine has just googled it and found out this so called viewing platform is half way through the walk, that is 1 1/2 hours in!! Pleased we walked back. I saw a Fantail on this forest walk, but it was nothing compared to the next fantail we saw an hour later...
So next we drove to Hokitika Gorge. Unbelievable. The water here was so BLUE! Really incredible. It was an easy walk down to the river, along a swing bridge. It was very touristy and people were even swimming in the blue river. We saw an amazing Fantail that stuck by us for ages. We could video it and take photos of it for as long as we liked. It loved us for attracting the sand flies. The damn things are blood suckers and we were the bait. But the Fantail was flying around us and staying around so we got some decent shots.
|Swingbridge at Hokitika Gorge|
|The road out of Hokitika Gorge|
Back at the AirBnB now. Tired, and need bed.
It was strange waking up and not knowing where I was for a few seconds, but there was a very loud cockerel to remind me. Sabine said the sheep were also loud but I didn't notice. Both of which were very near us outside the kitchen window in a neighbours garden. Yes I said garden.
After breakfast we headed north to Pancake Rocks despite the weather. It was a long drive along the stretch of highway that kept being weird with the railway. I remember this from 2009. There were sections of road where the roundabouts also incorporate the railway directly though the middle. And one section the road and rail also merge to share one bridge. I'm pleased to report that an adjacent road bridge is currently being built here, so no more scared drivers for too much longer.
We stopped in New World at Greymouth for a pizza bun with a bar of Cadbury orange chocolate (marketed as part of their "spider" range) which was nice but eaten too quickly.
Pancake Rocks was touristy, which Sabine wasn't too fond of. It was also raining off and on which didn't help.
After that we stopped at a cave called Punakaiki Cavern, just north of Pancake Rocks. That was cool. Sabine didn't follow me in. Nor would I have gone in had it not been for the light on my phone. It wasn't powerful enough to guide two people, just myself, but I got a fair bit inside. At first I had to duck my head, a LOT, but the roof opened up and the cave became quite interesting. Kids were in there too walking around. If it were in the UK I think Health and Safety would have had a thing or two to say about this place, but it was more adventurous than the Pancake Rocks.
The weather got better after that. We drove a bit further north to a few view points,
but eventually headed back and stopped for a beautiful river walk along Porarari River. It was a one way walk so we knew we would need to walk back the same way. However we got about two thirds of the way in (before the next walkway junction) before we decided to head back. It was a great walk and the weather was on our side. We also met a few Whitebaiters who were fishing with huge nets. Apparently this NZ delicacy is quite expensive, especially in Auckland.
|Porarari River walk|
|at the Porarari River walk|
|The "fish in a tree!" XD|
Heading back, we were going to visit The Warehouse in Greymouth. It had a Subway attached to the building. How could you possibly resist? But the main road to the town centre was closed due to a motorbike street racing event that was going on. Oh well.
About 5 minutes after passing the railway/road bridge on the way back, we noticed a train heading that way! Lucky we weren't caught up in that mess! There are no lights to stop the drivers from using the bridge. I have no idea how they cope. Maybe some cars really do have to reverse out of the bridge. scary.
We visited Lake Mahinapua after that. That was a very quite spot. Very tranquil. Sabine chased after 3 white herons with her camera but she and the other tourists scared them away to a nearby tree. 2 teenagers were also fishing here. I found that very 'gut NZ' somehow.
After that we returned to our AirBnB in Hokitika and ate our pasta. We watched a film called Anna and the King, using my Computer with DVD but hooked up via HDMI on the TV they had here. Its actually a very good film with stunning visuals. Props to the host for putting a HDMI cable in a draw.
We packed early and set out soon after breakfast. It was raining like crazy. I did the driving for the first leg, from Hokitika, along all of Arthurs Pass right up to the junction of SH1 where Sabine took over. I killed 2 Wekas fighting in the road. They came out the bush and were fighting so much they didn't spot the car. This was at the first bit of Arthurs Pass. :'(
Sabine drove down as far as New World in Oamaru. We got a pizza bread, with a block of Cadbury chocolate with coconut. yummy!
After that I drove us home. At one point I had a red police car behind me. I was a bit tensed up because I couldn't drive too slowly and nor too fast. Either would have been bad. But it was okay.