Back on familiar ground...

Trip Start Feb 17, 2005
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Trip End Feb 27, 2006


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Friday, October 14, 2005

We were in no real hurry to leave Hokitika, and we chatted to Neil and Kerry some more before setting off at 10.15am. I asked Kerry if there were any points of interest en route to Punakaiki, and she recommended the Point Elizabeth Track just outside Greymouth. She said it was a beautiful walk that followed the coast and passed through the forest, so we decided to go for it as we were both in a tramping mood!

The 3 hour walk was indeed very nice, as it provided great views of the huge waves far beneath us. We spotted a lone seal in the ocean, bobbing up and down with the aforementioned waves. The fact that we had to return to the car park via the same route detracted from the experience a little bit, but it was nice to stretch our legs and get some fresh air.

An hour later, we were in the tiny Punakaiki, where I'd decided to try out a different backpackers. It was a wise decision, as Te Nikau Retreat was yet another cosy place, with the 'dorm' being a series of mattresses spread out in the loft area. It perhaps doesn't sound that nice, but it was very clean, well decorated, and quite unique...and the duvets were ultra soft!

After a quick bite to eat, we walked along the Truman Track to view the beach, home to the most fearsome waves I've ever seen. I ambled ahead and climbed the same large rock that I sat on last time, and watched the mighty ocean in action. A sudden burst of extra large waves caused a moments real alarm, as they came fully into the shore. I was very surprised, and at the next gap between waves I sprinted back to the steps to meet Charlotte, who got a comical snap of me in panic mode (photos to follow when she emails me them).

We watched nature at work for a long time, as the waves hit the rocks at great speed, causing a spectacular spray effect. Reluctantly, we left the beach at 6pm as we wanted to go to the much hyped Pancake Rocks before high tide to see the blow hole in action...only it didn't turn out like that. In fact, I was once again underwhelmed by this tourist attraction, and found the nearby rock formations and waves much more interesting.

Charlotte, me and a giggly Japanese girl had a very relaxing evening just chatting and reading. I wasn't late to bed as my eyes were closing soon after 10pm...all this travelling was taking its toll!

My final day with a travel partner began with a drive to the seal colony at Cape Foulwind. A 10 minute walk from the car park brought us to a great lookout directly above the rocks where dozens of seals were playing. They were much more active than the ones in Kaikoura, and there were some really cute pups there too, although we weren't as close to them as I'd been previously.

Intrigued, we watched their movements for over half an hour, before we continued along the track a bit more. However, neither of us were in walking moods, so we just sat down near a cliff's edge and enjoyed the sun. Occasionally we'd see the seals in the sea beneath us, playfully "riding the waves" as Charlotte put it.

We enjoyed a refreshing 'smoothie' at a nearby cafe overlooking the ocean, before we mistakenly went into the centre of Westport, where another little tiff arose! It was shortlived though, and we were soon on the road to Nelson. The scenery changed as we made our way inland, and we were surrounded by dense forests and rivers for the entire 3 hour journey.

It was a relief when we eventually reached Shortbread Cottage, as it had been another long day. It was good to be back, although Rie did a double take when she saw me again (even though she knew I was due to be arriving soon!). Luckily Charlotte liked it too, and we marked our last night by going out for a pizza, with a huge banana split for dessert!

The next day we said our goodbyes, and agreed that it would be a little strange being on our own again. Still, my week with Charlotte had created some fond memories, and I'd thoroughly enjoyed having a travel partner for a change.
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