From my window, I can see the grey and desolate sea as it brings its waves into shore in an unceasing fashion. Its voice drones on and on. I imagine myself an invalid sent to the seashore in a last effort to recover from a relentless illness. The sky is a lighter shade of darkness than the sea but speaks of sadness and remorse echoing the lamentations of the deep. It is beautiful!!!
G and I arrived via Intercity bus to Punakaiki yesterday. We are here to witness the show of the pancake rocks. They moan and groan in their miseries; they spout and spew in their anger. Unfortunately, it is not a given that the performance will occur. It is dependent on the strength of the waves and on a southwesterly wind. It also occurs only at high tide. We arrived too late for the show today. We did go visit the performers who are rocks sculpted by the sea and stand in rows. Each row is composed of small layers of sediment so in appearance presents as a stack. Now they are not rounded so the pancake similarity can only be taken so far.
Oct. 30 Oh, Punakaiki, Punakaiki, how do I love thee!!! The Tasman Sea is moody and tempestuous; it never teases; it is seriousness personified. The sky is just a lighter shade of gray than the sea. The waves in an angry dissonance slap the face of the sand leaving behind a thin layer of white foam. We watched scant ribbons of light sadly leave this earth at sunset, swallowed by more delusory blackness. Oh, but this is what makes it mystical and alluring!
Plus, there are the pancake rocks which moan and groan and crescendo to a force which magnetizes in a spray of water high in the air.
Behind these rocks is another area which appears to have a separate alley to the sea. A blow hole there fogs the atmosphere with a fine mist when the waves converge together as a single force.
The most enticing spot is the rock surge pool where G and I watched waves enter and exit a pool size area of indeterminate depth. There was a large rock off to one side and on the back wall there was a split in the rock formation the size of a door. The waves would come in and when faced with the resistance of the back wall they would retreat only to be forced forward again by other waves entering the pool. Back and forth, back and forth, rocking and rolling, back and forth, back and forth, until they crescendo in a magnificently high splash against the back wall. It covers the rock in a foamy spray and then repeats its action until the force of the wave is dissipated. G watches, calculating in his mind the relationship of wave to crash and the timing interval involved.
In the morning, I lay in bed with the curtains open and watch the poetry of the sea and think “I will come back here.”
On a less insightful note, this is the first hostel where there has been a good percentage of over 50’ers. One is an American woman who is 75 that tours New Zealand for 3 months of the year and Australia for 3 months. She hikes during the day and then spends her nights at the only tavern down the road. She has not brought enough food for her weeklong stay here and has no transportation to go an hour away for groceries. She begged potatoes off of people at the tavern. We gave here oatmeal and various snack bars to help tied her over. We met a couple from Maine who are here because she was running a Triathlon in Auckland. Apparently she had won her age category in the States and got to go to this international event. They stayed in a hard shelled wagon on the property of the hostel.
The owner is a German who each day bakes hearty wheat bread filled with nuts, seeds and grains. He sells it to his visitors. It is delicious! We also ran into Casey, our young friend from Portland. He is working three hours a day here for his room. It is called “woofing” and originated with college age youth working for room and board on organic farms.
Oct. 31, 2012 We went on a hiking journey by the river Pororari, which feeds into the Tasman Sea. It winds through subtropical and temperate forests. Around one bend was a giant frog staring from a cavern. I screamed but in reality it was a geocache.
Go me! G and I hiked for over an hour by a less than pristine tannin stained river that forced itself forward on its journey to the sea.
We came to steps made of stone and went up and then down. We came to a cave made by the tilting of two rocks together. We descended down wooden stairs and ascended by more stairs through a narrow slit in the rocks. Onward we hiked until we came to our first swing bridge of the day. Kodak moment with more than one picture taken and then we backtracked to begin the second leg of our circle hike.
This one followed the Punakaiki river and, honestly, was not very fun. For one thing, it was strictly through subtropical and temperate forests. We did not see the river until the very end. For another, there was mud on the path and we never could get out of it until our last swing bridge of the day. The bridge was quite impressive and was even more so since we were blocked from the entrance site by a horse. Actually, there were several horses standing under and around the bridge. It turns out it was a section of the walk that was on private property. We eased around the horse and crossed the bridge.
Then we had a 30 minute walk by the road to return to the town of Punakaiki.
Tomorrow we are off on another adventure to Franz Josef glacier via our friendly Intercity Bus service.