On our way up the west coast, Hokitika, New Zealand’s jade capital, was a must stop-over. Carefree, we toured the shops because having a car makes souvenir hunting so much more irresistible. What will we do with the ever growing box of artwork, jewellery and knickknacks? The latest idea was sending it from Hong Kong to Bangkok, our very last stop before going home, because the costs for sending such a heavy parcel to Europe are frightening.
Our last destination on the west coast was Punakaiki, famous for its Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. Without question, the limestone rocks are quite a sight: thin layers of rocks, clearly separated, look like a huge pile of pancakes. Deep down below there is a system of caverns through which the ocean rushes in an out. Sometimes the surf is so strong that the water is pushed through narrow crevices all the way up, very much like a whale exhaling.
At this miracle of nature, we were reminded of the “marvels of humanity”. At that very place, we ran into Martin from Londonderry, who was working at Casa Azul in Puerto Varas / Chile, when we stayed there four months ago. This feeling: “we are all from the same tribe going to the same places”, found a new climax the next day. At an internet café in Motueka, we ended up sitting next to two young Austrians we also met at Casa Azul. Only the day before, the three of us had talked about them. It felt almost a bit too much of a coincidence!
Punakaiki was also the scene of a bit of an adventure, the first one since we have come to New Zealand. Heidi and Martin hiked the short “Truman Trail” to the beach and planned to return trekking along the ocean back to our hostel. What started as a cheerful undertaking with crawling through caves, climbing up and down cliffs and watching the sun paint the cliffs and rocks in gold and red, became rather stressful after a while. We simply could not find the trail back inland and kept climbing more and more cliffs only to arrive at more bays without exist. With the sun quickly disappearing on the horizon, Heidi grew nervous, but Martin kept his calm and eventually guided us through the bush back to the Te Nikau Retreat, our hostel.
Our trip further north to Westport was framed by spectacles of different kinds of rainforest towering over one side of the road and mist moving in from the ocean on the other, lingering like heavy smoke over the beaches.
At Westport, we went inland following the scenic Buller River. About midway to Golden Bay, we allowed for a fun thing to interrupt the lengthy drive to Golden Bay. We crossed New Zealand’s longest suspension bridge (110 meters) and trekked the fascinating walks on the peninsula across.