Friday, February 13, 2009

Final Leg of the West Coast, South Island

February 15, 2009—On January 28 we left Franz Joseph headed for Greymouth, which would be around 100 kilometers. This drive moved back inland for most of the trip, but we had beautiful views of the mountains along the way. I just love the color of the water from the glaciers.

We had to be careful in Hari Hari because we read that the town makes quite a bit of money from speeding tickets. When we drove through the town, we understood why. The street was nice and wide and straight, so Steve said that it would be easy to drive too fast.

We stopped at the small town of Hokitika to have some lunch. While we were there, we went shopping for a New Zealand “pounamu” jade necklace for Zelda, and she found a lovely piece. We walked around town a bit and then found a quaint little café for lunch.

Our next stop was the town of Ross where we stopped at the Ross Goldfields Information and Heritage Center. We paid our admission and went in. The center was smaller than we expected, but it was interesting to read all about the gold mining that took place there.

We made it to Greymouth around one o’clock and stopped in at the grocery store for a few treats for the evening. We then drove 14 kilometers north of Greymouth and arrived at The Breakers B&B. Jan welcomed us and got us all settled in. The home sits on the bluff overlooking the ocean, and the view was spectacular. Our room was on the second floor with a deck so we enjoyed the view for awhile, and then we decided to go down to the beach. We again found ourselves collecting beautiful rocks and enjoying the surf. Jan’s dog Ziggy joined us, and he was interested in just one thing—our throwing a stick into the surf for him to retrieve. When he brought it back to us, he would drop it and then start barking for us to throw it again.

We spent several hours on the beach looking for jade but did not have any luck. Zelda had found a tree trunk to sit on, so we walked up to get her and head back. After taking just a few steps Zelda spotted a piece of jade. It’s a lovely piece and will make a beautiful necklace for her. We returned to our room to enjoy the view, but a few hours later Steve was anxious to go back to the beach to look for some more jade. He and I returned for about an hour and looked very hard, but we were not able to find any more. We enjoyed a very relaxing evening listening to the surf crashing on the beach while we read our books, and we also slept very well that night.

In the morning Jan served us an excellent breakfast with a choice of either eggs, sausage, and toast or a continental style breakfast. We enjoyed talking with her during breakfast, and she gave us quite a bit of helpful information about our drive to Westport.

We left around 8:30 and drove on this coastal stretch of road that is said to be one of the most beautiful in New Zealand—we would agree. As we came around one corner, we had a great view of the coast line into the distance. What made it even prettier was the morning fog hanging along the shore.

Our next stop was Punakaiki or Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. The tide wasn’t right for the blowholes, but the rock formations were amazing, and they looked like stacks of pancakes. Steve read that to this day, geologists can’t figure out how these rocks were formed. We enjoyed a 40-minute walk on a circular route to look at all the different formations.

We stopped quickly at Irimahuwhero Lookout, which gave us another great view of the coast, but mainly I wanted to write about it because of the very long name.

Next we stopped at an historic bridge and took a walk across it. On the other side was a path to a cave that we were able to walk through. It was a bit eerie but enough light was coming in that we could see our way—but just barely. As we drove away we spotted the most interesting road sign. I don’t think that too many people we know have ever seen one like this.

We reached the turnoff to Cape Fowlwind and drove 14 kilometers back to the sea. This point is the first point of land that Captain Cook viewed of New Zealand so, of course, we had to see it. You can see some nasty rocks jutting out from the point.

From Cape Foulwind we drove through Westport and then turned east to cut across the island headed back to Blenheim. We were now at a point of simply getting back in order to catch the ferry. The drive across the island was very nice, and we arrived in Blenheim around 4 o’clock. And now for the rest of the story.

In one of my earlier blogs I wrote about making it through Blenheim without stopping for some Makana Macadamia Butter Toffee Crunch—but not this time. We decided that we just had to have some more. We had to ask for directions as the shop is not on the main street, which I find strange. Anyway, we found the shop and loaded up with more toffee, and we left Blenheim very, very happy. We must be unusual because we left with no wine from the middle of wine country, but we did leave with candy.

We found our motel in Picton and got settled in, and then we went to the harbor to find a good restaurant. We ended up at Le Café and enjoyed a nice meal. The next morning we toured the Edwin Fox Maritime Museum, which was quite interesting. We caught the noon ferry the next day and had a very nice crossing back to Wellington and the North Island.

As you can tell, I am behind on my blogs, but I should catch up on our travels with just one more blog in a few days.

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