Coming to end.... have just come back from my final organised activity and about to slowly make my way back up to New Plymouth where I'm due to arrive friday afternoon just in time for the weekend!
I left Franz Josef and all the rain yesterday morning to continue up the coast which again was stunning! Not long out of Franz Josef and we hit sunshine which was nice. On the way, we stopped at a cafe called Bushman's Cafe where you can see red deer and other wildlife the names of which escape me right now... the cafe also serves possum pie as possums are considered as a huge pest here and are readily hunted or killed on the road, quite the opposite to Oz where they are protected. So that was an interesting stop!
I arrived in Punakaike early afternoon and couldn't believe my eyes when I arrived at my Hostel, the Te Nikau Retreat. It really was a retreat! All these lodges and cabins scattered amongst rainforests! My lodge was very open plan with a 7 bed 2 tier open plan room upstairs, a garden house style kitchen coming off the side of it downstairs and the bathroom was a hut outside. It was basic but extremely serene and peaceful, plus there was no phone signal what so ever. A short walk through the forest brought you to the cliff edge and beach so I walked there in the afternoon to see the angry looking sea, it was high tide so didn't dare risk going down to the beach... I have got around NZ safely so far so didn't want to tempt fate! lol But I did however sit on the cliff for 2 hours reading my book and just completely enjoying the surrounding nature, it was awesome.
Got a little bored in the evening as nothing to do and didn't see the sign until the morning that I could have bought wine from reception... damn! People were cool in my dorm though and there were 2 aussie teachers there so we had the usual work chat... I know, us teacher's are terrible for that!
This morning I went on a horse trek and was the only one booked in so for $20 extra got a private guided trek! It was amazing. We first went through the valley for a good 2 and a half hours... it's completely untouched, King Kong, Walking with Dinosaurs and many other things were filmed there and I'm told by the guide that the next X-Men film is currently been filmed down near Queenstown.
After an awesome ride through the valley we finished our ride on the beach in view of Pancake Rocks and Blow holes which are famous here and even had a canter.... something we wouldn't have done with a larger group, so I am a lucky girl today!
Now waiting for bus to Nelson where I just stop off for the night before making my way to Wellington and then finally NEw Plymouth where I'm going to happily straighten my hair as fed up of have a frizzy mess as a hairstyle... long term backpacking is definitely not for me! lol