THURSDAY: Punakaiki to Hokitiki

Thursday was a more leisurely day spent in and out of the car working our way down the coast from Nelson to Punakaiki (Paparoa National Park) and then to Hokitiki where we had a cabin on the beach for the night.

The coastline of Paparoa National Park

The drive to Punakaiki got us to the actual coast of the island for our first views of the spectacular beaches and rock formations offshore.  The better part of the morning was spent winding our way through mountain passes and then through more rural grassland (of which you can never have too much, says the girl from Wisconsin, but which gets monotonous after a few hours).  The plan for the day included some exploration in the tiny park space at Paparoa, including the famous “Pancake Rocks”.  We ended up lunching at the DOC site and then taking the 20 minute walk to the rock viewing platforms.  The site is currently undergoing some renovations which obstructed the views of the biggest blowholes, but the natural blowhole formations in the rocks were really cool anyways–especially since we happened to be at the park just before high tide that afternoon. To add to the scenery of the space, Dad claims to have seen a dolphin just offshore.

Rock overhang off the Truman Track

We then went back to the Truman Track–a short track through the coastal rainforest to the beach which allowed for more great views and a short walk on the gravel beach under a beautiful natural rock overhang.  On this walk–despite its brevity–I had the pleasure of viewing a few European women squatting on the side of the path relieving themselves in full view of passersby.  True, there were no toilets, but given New Zealand’s lack of threatening animal species anywhere on the island, one has to wonder why they couldn’t have been bothered to find a more private place to pee…and why they couldn’t hold it for the 15 minute loop.
By mid-afternoon we were ready to find our accommodations for the night and get some dinner.  So we made our way to Hokitiki.  I was asleep by about 7:00, but Mom and Dad soldiered on through nightfall in order to visit the free Glow Worm Dell across the road from our motel.  The next morning, we spent a good portion of the day just walking around Hokitiki shopping and checking out local artists.  Hokitiki is supposed to be a great place to buy jade jewelry, but even the lower end stuff was out of my price range.  There was a great glassblowing artist in town as well, but my favorite was the Hokitiki Craft Gallery, which was a co-op of 15 local artists (ranging from silk dyeing to wood carving to knitting).  The man working the gallery on Friday informed us that the artists all share the work at the gallery equally, each of then only working very 15th day.  I went gaga over the hand-carved kitchen utensils made from local timbers (but resisted the urge to buy any scarves).   After shopping was done, we hit the road to make it to Franz Josef for our next night’s accommodations.

Long Live the Dream,

–MK

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