Another place we were sad to leave but our journey must go on.Today we were heading for one of the highlights of this area - Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki in Paparoa National Park, on the coast about 45 kms north of Greymouth.And what a stunning coastline it is - the drive north from Greymouth is spectacular.We hadn't booked accommodation at Punakaiki, hoping to pick up bargain, but arrived earlier in the day than planned.A quick look around possible option revealed lots of no vacancy signs - does the season here ever end? - so with yet another of E's speciality U-turns we headed back to Hydrangea Cottages which had a good write up in the NZ Rough Guide.These cottages sit high off the main road overlooking the beach to the south and luckily had one cottage available.The cottage - really a studio - was ideal.It was more like an up-market wooden cabin (see West Coast photo album) which was very well kitted out and in a secluded setting in the bush with wonderful views over the sea - and we did even manage to negotiate a bit of a discount.It was then off to see the much acclaimed Pancake Rocks.These are reached via a formal pathway through thick bush of the spiky NZ Flax and other native coastal plants.The walkway weaves its way over rock arches and past blowholes (where we had sightings of occasional spumes of spray) to reveal the unique rock formations, but also giving wonderful views up and down the coastline. We even had a distant view of the snowfield and Mounts Cook and Tasmin 200kms to the south.With a good chunk of daylight left we then set off for the Truman Track, which turned out to be a wee gem.The track wandered through native rain forest opening out on to a rocky headland with another blowhole, and steps down to a secluded beach.With the sun heading for the horizon and the light changing it was very atmospheric.There were lots of people heading down the track as we left, no doubt to watch the sunset, but as we've seen so many wonderful sunsets on our travels we decided to leave them to it (and to the pesky sandflies - we've both got great lumps all over) and head back to our cosy wee cottage where E cooked up a delicious spicy venison salami risotto.
Maybe it's getting a bit boring, but next morning we again woke to a beautiful day of sunshine and clear skies.Just the kind of weather for exploring a bit more of Paparoa National Park than only Pancake Rocks.It was a short drive to the mouth of the Pororari River and the start of the Pororari River track which winds its way along the riverbank through ancient native forest and beneath towering escarpments.Meandering along the track we had to make several stops to view the abundant bird life - lots of Silver Eyes, Fantails (both Pied and Black Phase), some Tom t***, Wekas and one very different bird that we couldn't find in the book so no idea what it was.We went back to Pancake Rocks at high tide for the supposedly spectacular display from the blowholes, but there wasn't even one spurt.The sea was really calm and although we waited a while and gave them every chance, like every blowhole we've seen on our travels they were all fart and no piss (excuse the expression) - in fact there wasn't even a fart!
E & M xxxx