December 11, 2014 – On the Mainland


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.

Published by kagould17

After working for 43+ years (38 years 7 months with my last company), I finally got that promotion I waited my entire career for……retirement. I have been exploring this new career for the past 3+ years and while it is not always exciting, the chance to do what I want for myself and my family instead of what my company wanted me to do has been rewarding. While I still miss the social aspect of working with a team of great people, I have managed to keep in touch with many from my former team and I have many friends and family members who now fulfill this part of my life. Now that my Patty has retired, we are able to spend more time in pursuits and with people who are near and dear to us. I enjoy photography, gardening, working with my hands, walking, cycling, skiing, travelling, reading and creating special photo and video productions obtained in my first pastime. I may not become wealthy in any of these pursuits, but I already feel I am rich in life experiences far beyond any expectation.

13 thoughts on “December 11, 2014 – On the Mainland

    1. Good Moring John. We hope to get back to NZ one day soon. The coast is truly spectacular. As to the Weka, apparently, they are a dime a dozen. They are everywhere out in the country side, just wondering around. They kind of remind me of grouse, in a way. Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend.


    1. Provided you are downwind….I recall trying to eat some breakfast near Pier 39 in San Fran while watching the seals. Not an enjoyable atmosphere. Thanks for reading. Allan


    1. We have been to NZ 4 times and missed the South Island on our 2012 trip. I recall feeling disappointed that I had missed something, so was happy to get back in 2014 and do it right. There is so much to see and do on the South Island, as you will see. Thanks for reading Marion. Have a great weekend. Allan

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Lush and green is New Zealand, for sure. The swinging footbridge is a little snug to pass on and would not meet distancing requirements. We found the hike location along a fault line interesting and how far up the ground had moved. Likely not a good place to hike during a quake. Thanks for reading. Hope your weekend is going well. Allan

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It was indeed. It was unique to be walking a trail along the fault line, with ground shifted up from previous earthquakes. The ground still moves a lot in NZ. Thanks for reading Scott. Allan

      Liked by 1 person

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