WORLD WANDER —-It’s BACK
NOTE: This post contains slideshows and if you are reading it on your phone, it is best viewed direct from the SITE, rather than in the READER.
In the absence of current travel options, this is a rework of our 2014 trip Down Under, previously posted on a private blog site.
+14 and cloudy with intermittent showers and a high of +16
We awoke to drier weather this morning with hints of sunshine. After breakfast, I hiked back to the ferry terminal to pick up our new rental car. It turned out to be a brand new Toyota Rav4, which I was not happy about originally, but grew to appreciate, as our South Island trip went on.
The Mainland is how the South Islanders refer to there part of the country, just to P— off the Northerners. They produce most of the country’s hydro electricity and judging by what we saw today on our drive from Picton through the Marlborough area, a significant chunk of the wine. We have never seen so many grape vines in our lives and new vineyard fields being created as we drove along.
Soon we were in the Buller Gorge, a beautiful mountainous area with, you guessed it, windy roads, but also plenty of one lane bridges and one lane sections of road hugging the overhanging cliff and tenuously suspended over the raging river. Most of them went around corners, so you could not tell if anyone was coming. We felt a little safer in our RAV4 than we would have in the Corolla. I still remember doing these same sections with a camper van in 1988, wondering when I would hear the sound of rock on metal.
We stopped at the Swingbridge, where they have a very long swinging footbridge over the Buller and then many walking tracks through the bush. They were wet and muddy today, but a refreshing break.
One more stop in the Buller Gorge to enjoy the scenery.
Finally out of the Buller Gorge, we arrived at the West Coast and stopped at Cape Foulwind Lighthouse, where we saw our first Weka (flightless bird in photo) and then as we patted ourselves on the back for this momentous event, we saw another and another and then they were around every corner, on the road, in the bush and walking around town drinking beer (well, maybe not the last one).
A little further on, we stopped to visit a seal colony and look across the water at Bird Rock. Pretty amazing, even on a grey day. There were many moms just hanging around with one flipper on their baby, kind of a tender moment if you were upwind.
We arrived at our Beachfront Motel in Punakaki at 5:30 by driving along a bumpy gravel road, ten feet from a big stone breakwater (see photo) that will be the only thing keeping the crashing waves out of our cottage tonight. Of course the 5 million tons of suspended mountain rock, 100 feet away on the other side (see photo) will probably kill us before the tsunami hits. Nonetheless, we were in a spacious cabin and could easily hear the roar of the sea.
We will sleep comfortably tonight knowing our sidewalks are well shoveled, even if impending doom is just outside our walls. We went back into town (population 350, if everyone is at home) for a tavern dinner, not our finest meal (tasted like Captain Highliner fish and chips, a travesty, given how close we were to the ocean) on this trip and then home to hunker down for the night.