The train ride from Christchurch to Greymouth was pleasant but the weather became cloudy and rainy when we got into the Southern Alps. It was impossible to see much even from the freezing-cold viewing deck. We got a few glimpses of snow-capped mountains in the background.
I shared a compartment with a couple from Singapore. She was from India and he from Holland but they settled in Singapore. Very nice, interesting, and well-traveled couple and they gave me tons of pointers for Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam which they know well and travel often. Also met a man on his way to train engineers in Antarctica. He stopped in New Zealand for the New Zealand Cup – a thoroughbred horse race held annually in Christchurch in November. He told me a bit about the race which began in 1860. It’s one of the oldest horse races in New Zealand. Even though the views from the train weren’t great, the company made up for it!
Picking up the car rental in Greymouth was relatively painless and after a few expensive taxi rides in Christchurch – the rental seems absolutely worth the price for the freedom it provides. After picking up the car I headed north along the west coast to Punakaiki Rocks – also known as “pancake rocks”. Punakaiki Rocks is in an area of the south island where erosion “stratified” the limestone into layered columns that look like a giant stack of pancakes. The waves have also created blowholes in the rocks adding to the dramatic appearance of this coastal area.
I took lots of photos of the rocks and the beautiful beach there and later discovered I left the USB cord needed to download photos from my camera back in Christchurch, in stored luggage… The flight from Cape Town to Auckland must have killed off several brain cells as I also lost my cell phone charger and misplaced many other things. Also had computer issues just before leaving Cape Town – laptop died and that makes life much more complicated. I will add photos when I get back to Christchurch if I don;t find another solution before then.
One other area explored today was Taurange Bay. Hiked along a beach called Cape Foulwind (well named) and saw a seal colony with several baby seals. There were some fantastic rock formations along the beach.
I’m spending the night in Westport and will go on to Nelson tomorrow stopping to hike and explore points of interest along the way.