Day 49/72: Kayaking and PancakesDecember 15 in New Zealand
We left our campsite and headed down the West Coast, onwards on our journey. The roads were stunning (one of the top 10 coastal roads in the world) and the drive was great. After an hour or so we got to our first stop, Punakaiki. Here, we'd been told there was a couple of great walks to be seen.
We headed out on the first, called the Pancake Rock Walk. It was a steady loop, with walkways and bridges initially through forest (it felt like we were back in the Singapore botanical gardens!) with little plaques naming all the trees and shrubbery. Then we walked out onto a platform viewpoint looking over the cliffs and coastline. Here, there were stacks of what was indeed rock pancakes! Apparently its due to the erosion of different densities of rock at different rates that causes the pancakes to form but scientists are still confused. These were great, and where the stacks were there were great holes running through the rocks, and the waves crashed in dramatically underneath us. It was very exciting!
After walking around the walkway, taking photos and admiring the view, we stopped for an early lunch (1200). There was a cafe selling very appealing pizza, and very appealing pancakes, so we had one of each and split it.
After lunch, we had a debate as to whether to carry on with the journey, or hire kayaks and go up a river we'd passed earlier on the road that looked exciting. We decided to do the kayaking and it was a brilliant decision. We arrived at what seemed to be someone's farm house and kind of peered around until a man found us. He sorted us out with kayaks whilst happily spinning stories of his 28 years of the river. We escaped with a bucket for our phones, nice neoprene bootees and string around Tom's sunglasses ("the amount of times I've had people borrow this snorkel to look for their glasses", "I had a guy come back after 4 years and he still had his string on them!") and headed down to the river. There was a rope tied to the front of the boat used for walking it across the shallower bits of the river, a fair amount as it turned out. It was hilarious, walking up the middle of a large river with great towering cliffs and hills on either side like something out of Jurassic Park, towing our kayaks like walking dogs. We went as far up the river as was reasonably possible, spent some time jumping off rocks and taking photos, and then came back down again through the rapids ("you won't believe the amount of people I've had fall in there, it's like they've never been in a kayak before!"). Such great scenery and a brilliant excursion from the route. The guy was pleased that we'd had a good time and waved us on our way.
We also had a quick stop at a short track down to a beach*. It was unusually stoney for a NZ beach but had a great waterfall that flowed off the cliff down onto the shale, so we had a quick shower to cool off before heading back up to the road.
We then drove to Hokitika and a campsite/field by a lake. We thought about going for a run and then decided it was far too late so went for a short walk to a lake side beach to have a paddle as the sun went down. Lovely Saturday overall!
* all around New Zealand are these green and yellow signs that indicate walking tracks. You can find them anywhere, around campsites, the sides of roads, beaches, car parks. They have the name of the track, or point of interest, the distance in km and the average time it takes to walk it. This was one of them, a side of the road version.Read more