Looking southwest from Paraparaumu Beach




Karapiro to Picton

Picton to Woodend


Christchurch to Ashburton

Ashburton to Fairlie

Fairlie to Awamoko

Awamoko to Middlemarch

Middlemarch to Clyde

Clyde to Invercargill

Invercargill to Bluff

Bluff to Te Anau

Te Anau to Arrowtown

Arrowtown to Wanaka (Twice)

Wanaka to MacKenzie Country

MacKenzie Country and Twizel

Twizel to Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier to Hokitika

Hokitika to Reefton via Karamea

Reefton to Twizel

Twizel to Takaka

Takaka to Picton

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Hokitika to Reefton via Karamea - 18/03/2012 to 20/03/2012

We discovered Hokitika’s hidden secret, the Stone Oven Bakery, where every thing has a crispy crust and a soft chewy centre. I had a Jenny Craig donut, which has no calories on Sundays according to the obliging saleswoman. Unfortunately we didn’t buy a loaf of bread and when we went back they were sold out; the secret had obviously got out.

Apart from visiting souvenir shops, cafes and glow-worm caves there is not a lot to do in Hokitika, hence the reason a lot of businesses are for sale, including the Council Chambers, the camp ground and the backpackers. Even the laundry had closed down, but the maker of the best donuts in NZ tipped us off as to where we could find an unlisted laundry. Such a sought after place; Roger had to race the young scabby campers down the road to the machines. (Scabby camper is my new nickname for tourists who hire station wagon type cars with no facilities and freedom camp illegally, defecating in the bushes). Actually we did find something else to do in Hokitika when it's raining - Go to the supermarket and pick through their discounted, past-their-best-by-date products.

Clean washing on board we headed down the road, through Kumara Junction, over the Taramakau rail bridge (that you share with the train), past Shantytown (been there done that) and finally arrived at Greymouth. What can you say about Greymouth on a wet Sunday? It is dull, grey, lifeless, totally unappealing - and shut; even the Monteith’s brewery. The only signs of life were the unsuspecting tourists who had caught the Tranz-Alpine train over from Christchurch and after five minutes in Greyville were dying to get out.

Can you tell I don’t like Greymouth? I only wanted a cross-stitch needle from one particular shop. It sold souvenirs, was bound to be open, but no it was shut also. Greymouth’s one redeeming feature was Mcdonalds; surely they couldn’t take the joy out of a Happy Meal? [They didn't - Ed]

Feeling in a touristy mood we kept on the road north and visited the Punakaiki Rocks, that’s pancake rocks to the non-Maori readers. Having been here many a time before, when you could actually walk on the rocks, we did the 15 minute walk in half the time, played the pushy tourist with the camera and ran out before the sandflies drew blood. We both came here when there was little or no parking, buildings or walkways. Now it is so over commercialised, with its tar-sealed and bordered paths, surrounded by flax gardens. However it has managed to maintain its free status, thanks to DOC and NZ's tax payers.

We finally made Westport, but time was pressing on so we went straight out to Cape Foulwind to our Pub car park. Nice publican, had a girlfriend who had an association with rowing, he got over it and her. He gave us the history of the area, the happenings of the local cement works and his life history. He tried to get Roger to drink the local West Coast beer, but he couldn’t be persuaded, Southern Karapiro men drink Speights.

If you even wondered what it would be like to live in the early days without phone, power, TV, heating, internet etc we can tell you. The poor bus batteries decided they had “over use syndrome” and packed a sad, the fuse burnt out and we were out of cellphone/internet range. Lucky for us we were near a big town with an obliging auto electrician, who had us back on the road - cash only, mind you! What a shame as Monday was such a beautiful day for sightseeing.

Not despairing, we had the rest of the afternoon to marvel at the beautiful coastline from Westport to Karamea, where native bush meets the Tasman Ocean for miles on end. Karamea is about as far north as the West Coast road takes the average tourist, unless you are into do-it- yourself tourism and want to visit the limestone caves and many walking tracks; then you can go a little bit further. We came here to see how much Karamea had changed, Roger delivered some freight here many decades ago, he thinks the town has grown a bit. I personally can’t rememberas it was a part of my tortured childhood days, when my parents made me walk from Collingwood to Karamea over Christmas. That 78.4kms of child abuse was, and still is, the Heaphy Track.

Tuesday morning we made our way back down the Coast road and detoured to Denniston to visit the old 1880’s coalmine 600 metres above sea level on a mountain plateau. There are lots of information boards explaining the old mine if you don’t want to do the tour. A lot of ruins are based on the Brakehead and the Incline, as all that coal had to go down to the wharf. The infamous Denniston Incline was built and operated from 1880 to 1957.

Having revisited Westport, with temperatures still in the 20’s, we headed east to take the inland route to Reefton via the Buller Gorge and the Inangahua Junction. A section of the gorge road is one-way because only part of the rock bluff was blown out, forming a half-tunnel effect. Apparently the locals have opposed any further work on Hawks Crag, the rock overhang, in order to keep the character of the gorge. It is now Tuesday night and we parked at the Reefton Racecourse with friends of the former owner of our bus.

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hawk's crag, bullerHawk's Crag, Buller Gorge
view from denniston mineWestport, from Denniston Mine Site
firewwod silver fernSilver Fern Firewood Stack
punakaiki rocksPunakaiki Rocks
tunnel visionTunnel vision on the West Coast
1080 protestAnother unhappy 1080 opponent