Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Paparoa National Park

During our road trip along the west coast, we were expecting to run into some wild and wet weather. Fortunately, we experienced this for only one day and we were able to still keep the adventurous levels high.

We followed the weather, and planned to spend that drenched day in Punakaiki.

We first stopped just north of Punakaiki to check out the seal colony in Cape Foulwind. This is a short 15 minute walk from the car park. We layered up in our waterproof boots, merino leggings, and rain shells for the torrential downpour. The quick journey was worthwhile because the sea movements and on-shore winds were exhilarating and the seals were hilarious, as always.

Seal Colony near Cape Foulwind

We then drove to the Paparoa National Park visitor centre which is directly across from the trailhead of the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. We wandered through the visitor centre and picked up a cute Auckland Zoo & DOC conservation game for my partner's nephew, before grabbing our headlamps and heading to the Punakaiki Caverns.

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The cavern exploration took half an hour. The cave sheltered us from the weather as we meandered through the dark twists, turns, and tunnels. It's an easy walk and not as nerve-wracking as Abbey Caves near Whangarei but still outside the comfort zone, especially since we had the space to ourselves and walking blindly is always a little spooky...

Next up, were the famous Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. We saved this for last so we could see the blowholes during high tide. The swell was large that day and the windy, wet weather made the easy stroll a wild affair.

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We decided to continue heading south to get closer to Franz Josef where we had a few activities planned.

We stopped for an early dinner at the Monteith's Brewery in Greymouth before camping up in Hokitika Gorge. It was a quiet evening, watching the season finale of Game of Thrones off our mobile data.

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