Traveler's Log Wednesday, November 23, 2016
West Coast Road
It's 7 a.m. and we're at Fox Glacier in New Zealand (still can't wrap my head around this!) I peek out the window for a weather check and it looks pretty grim.
We make our way to breakfast and the other possible helicopter riders are kind of sad. We slowly walk over to the helicopter office and find out that they are again not flying. DANG.
Back at the room we pack up and board the bus with the rest of the crew at 9 a.m. for our trek to Hokatika, We must look pretty sad because Erica and Patrick decide to take a side trip to Franz Josef Glacier to see if we ALL can see a glacier before we head further north. Rianne and Nathan were smart, they hiked into Fox Tuesday afternoon so at least two of our crew saw a glacier.
Traveling north along Route 6 (Haast Highway) we are turned away from Franz Josef too, the weather is not ideal. To cheer us up, Erica presents the newlyweds-Rianne and Nathan with some gifts: some Vegemite, marshmallows and a pair of tiny merino wool baby socks.
Route 6 now becomes the Franz Josef Highway and we continue on Whataroa. Erica tells us about the not-so-deadly critters that live in New Zealand and the deadly things that live in Australia. She tells us that Franz Josef is the busiest township on the west coast because of the glacier and it's also the wettest town in New Zealand. In 1982 it lost its airstrip and bridge because of 2 meters of rainfall in 24 hours.
She talks about Christchurch and the earthquake of 2011 that destroyed the cathedral. In 2015, Christchurch reopened to tourism.
We talk about sports in New Zealand. Erica explains that the US thinks of sports internally (American teams play each other) whereas New Zealand thinks externally (they play teams from around the world.)
The Mighty All Blacks (THE rugby team) is sports to New Zealanders. The All Blacks just recently played Ireland in Chicago and lost (heart breaking but New Zealanders were happy for the Irish!)
Time for a comfort stop and we hit this automated toilet. It was the most bizarre experience,
Motoring along we pass through many small townships: Harihari, Puekura, Kakapotahi, Ross and finally into Hokitika.
Some folks take a tour of Mountain Jade, a shop that sells jewelry made from pounamu.
We have an hour for lunch so off we go. Jay and I end up at Stumpers.
We've heard so much about Whitebait that we have to try it. It was Kapai!
Back on the bus, we've had a request to visit Lake Kaniere, unfortunately the weather is still bleak.
Back on the road we pass through Greymouth on our way to Punakaiki. Greymouth is bit more industrial than we've seen of the towns so far. Its a town with a mining and jade hunting past. It is also a town that was greatly affected by the Pike River Mining Disaster of 2010, where 29 men lost their lives. Their bodies remain in the now sealed mine. New Zealnd is moving away from coal, more towards natural gas, hydro and wind power.
We stop for a few photo-ops along the the coast road.
And finally arrive at the Punakaiki Resort.
Oh my, is this place gorgeous.
We quickly settle in for our one night here and hit the beach.
We get our first glimpse of a "pancake rock."
And find a nesting pair of oyster catchers.
And well camouflaged three eggs...
The tide is crashing in and the birds are loving it.
After a wonderful dinner, we are treated to a beach bonfire, the newlyweds are sharing the marshmallows.
It's off to bed to the sounds of the waves crashing on the beach. This IS a magical place.
More images from our travels from Fox Glacier to Punakaiki: https://photosbynanci.smugmug.com/New-Zealand-2016/Hokitika-Wednesday
Next up we travel from Punakaiki to Nelson with visits to: Pancake Rocks, Paparoa National Park; Cape Foulwind-to look for penguins and seals and lots more.
Day 1 and 2-Travel Days to New Zealand
Day 3 Queenstown
Day 4 Milford Sound
Day 5 Queenstown, Free Day
Day 6 Fox Glacier
Day 7 Hokitika, Punakaiki
Day 8 Nelson
Day 9 Nelson, Abel Tasman Park
Day 10 Wellington
Day 11 Wellington
Day 12 Rotorua
Day 13 Rotorua
Day 14 Auckland
Day 15 Auckland and departure