After breakfast we said goodbye to our hosts, Jon and Sarah, in Nelson. We drove down towards the west coast of the South Island. Since the earthquake last November made the east coast main highway down to Christchurch impassable, traffic is now re-routed through Nelson and down the west side. That made traffic for the first half of our drive today busier than normal. Still, it was a very lovely relaxed drive. The weather was great, and the road was good, too.
At around 1pm we had a lunch break in Westport — Sue and I shared a Subway sandwich, much to Sue’s chagrin. That left a 1-hour drive to our hotel in Greymouth without stops. But we made stops.
The drive along the coast here was spectacular. The vegetation is lush and green and even ‘tropical’ — lots of palm trees and those ferns that New Zealand is famous for. The roads are in good condition, but whenever you come to a bridge, and that is fairly regularly, you need to watch the sign to see if your lane has the right of way — and if you don’t, you’ll need to wait until oncoming traffic has crossed the single-lane bridge, and then it’s our turn. Simple, but it works. Lots of things about New Zealand are ‘practical’ like that. I’m now convinced that traffic circles work, and that they are a MUCH more efficient way of dealing with intersections than what we have at home.
Back to the drive. Our best stop enroute today was at Paparos National Park, also known as ‘Pancake Rocks’. We parked the car and followed the walkway built for visitors out to the seaside. There were ‘viewpoints’ along the way, each offering a great photo opportunity. So I took photos. Again, this is such a typical ‘kiwi’ thing — they love their natural environment here. Walks, hikes (or ‘tramps’ as they’re called here), cycling, mountain biking, surfing, fishing and hunting, camping and especially camper vans — New Zealand promotes outdoor physical activity and New Zealanders love to travel, abroad, but also within their own country. And the government has focussed on making things accessible, like the pathway around these pancake rocks, but also with bike and hiking paths throughout the country. Anyway, here are lots of photos of the pancake rocks (so-called because the layers of shale you see might suggest a pile of thin pancakes).
We arrived in Greymouth at around 4pm and checked into our hotel. The hotel and our hotel room appeared to have undergone recent renovations, and we were quite pleased with our booking. We unpacked, poured ourselves a drink, and unwound a bit. At around 7pm we walked over to the hotel restaurant. We had a fine supper meal, during which we got a return phone call from the mother-in-law of Sue’s nephew Scott. We don’t really know Kayla’s parents, but they just finished a 4-day glacier hike in Franz Josef Park (where we’re heading tomorrow), and Sue had emailed them yesterday to see if we might meet for coffee in Greymouth today. Kayla’s mom suggested that we join them for a hike here tomorrow, but we’d just booked a place in Franz Josef and were planning to leave here early tomorrow so a phone call would have to suffice.
Back in our room Sue got finally got her CNN fix. And I tried to upload my humungous photo gallery. I guess everyone else in this hotel is downloading movies and ‘the pipe’ is a bit slow right now. Oh well, at least we can watch a bit of Trump on TV!