Starting Point: Westport
Ending Point: Greymouth
Kilometers traveled: 126
Beers sampled: 7
Today we were planning on getting up bright and early and hitting the road early. But when the alarm went off we just weren’t feeling it. So we slept in until our normal 7 am wake up time and then hit the ground running.
First stop was the seal colony at Cape Foulwind again. We thought we’d try again this morning for better light and maybe more seals. We were rewarded with both. We saw about 20 seals and had softer morning light rather than the harsh light of midafternoon. It was fun to watch the seals sleep, fight, climb, and play on the rocks, as well as frolic in the water. The waves were really cool to watch too. The surges were huge this morning.
We probably could have spent the whole day there just watching, but soon it was time to head on down the road. As we headed back down the walkway to the Spaceship, we ran into a whole mess of Weka in the parking lot. One of them tried unsuccessfully (& rather clumsily) to jump up onto the trashcan for a bit of dumpster diving. Third time was a charm and he was up and rooting around. Weka are the funniest birds to watch. Kind of similar to chickens in size and some of their mannerisms…but with a whole lot more personality and craziness.
From there, we jumped into the campervan and headed south to Dolomite Point near Punakaiki to see the pancake rocks and watch the blowholes. Since we slept in we didn’t make it there for high tide. But the sea surges were still pretty strong today so we did get to see some blowhole action. Not to mention all the cool pancake rock formations. Pancake rocks are one of the great mysteries to geologists. They really aren’t positive what created them. The most popular theory is that the layers were formed 30 million years ago when fragments of sea creatures and plants landed on the seabed and solidified under great pressure into both hard and soft layers. These were lifted by seismic activity and then worn away by the sea and wind into the really cool shapes we saw today. It’s amazing how much force the wind and the sea have at Dolomite Point. We were at least 20 meters above the sea and were still clearing serious mist off our sunglasses and cameras when the surges came into the blowholes and caverns. The pancake rocks made me hungry for actual pancakes, so I think that’s what we’ll have for dinner later tonight or breakfast in the morning.
After our time at Pancake Rocks, we headed down to Greymouth. We have tickets for Skyfall at the Regent Cinema here tonight. We got into town fairly early, around noon. So we checked in at the I-site for a map and then wandered a bit of the city center before heading to our campground. We checked in, caught up with a good friend on the phone, and then had more time to kill so we headed over to Monteith’s Brewery.
Monteith’s is one of the oldest breweries in NZ. They’ve been brewing craft beers here on the West Coast since the 1860’s. We popped in for a sampler of their 6 most popular brews and a few snacks. We tried the Crushed Apple Cider, Original Ale, Radler Bier, Pilsner, Golden Lager, & Black Beer as part of the sampler and then got an extra glass of the Crushed Pear Cider because, well, we love ciders and wanted to try it. All the beers were excellent. Kyle commented that it was the best craft beer catalogue he had sampled in a while…especially for a major brewer. Our favorites were the Crushed Apple Cider (crisp and yeasty), Radler Bier (with it’s wonderful lemon tones), and the Black Beer (dark and chocolatey, with a bit of coffee). We also had some good snacks: bruschetta, cheddar with drunken apricots, and beer battered chips with mustardy aioli for dipping. Not a bad little lunch.
From there we staggered back to our car….KIDDING! We are responsible sometimes, you know! We headed back to the campground to check things out, chill, do some reading and correspondence, play some Angry Birds, and wander a bit on the beach.
Tonight we’ll head back into town to see Skyfall on the big screen. And then it’s off in the morning…heading south again, this time to Franz Josef. It’s glacier time, y’all! We’ve got our glacier hike booked for Monday. First time in a helicopter for me! So excited!
Off to take my James Bond doppelganger to see 007. Cheers!
I hope you have a fantastic time on your heli hike. Me and my husband did the heli-hike on Franz Josef in 2006 and it still remains our favourite thing we have done in New Zealand. 🙂
Kat & Kyle says
Thanks, Nicola! After a few delays, the weather cleared for us and we had a fantastic morning on Franz Josef.
No problem! I’m so pleased that the weather cleared for you and you really enjoyed your time on the glacier. We loved it when we did it, and my parents are actually coming over from the UK (where I am originally from, as we are living over here for a year) for Christmas and are hoping to do the same heli-hike weather-permitting on New Years Day!
Great to see you enjoying the wonders of the West Coast – and the weather has been turned on for you. Enjoy the drive to Wanaka – it is another stunner!
Kat & Kyle says
The weather has been really kind to us along the West Coast and we’ve really enjoyed our time here so far. Looking forward to more. And that drive to Wanaka really was stunning!