Travels on the South Island West Coast
Kia Ora. Back from the USA and
still homeless I spent a bit of time in Christchurch catching up
with friends then jumped into the campervan for a bit of touring and
tramping on the West Coast of the South Island
As usual, if you want a bigger view of an image then right click and "open in another window".
I started by walking the Paparoa Track - the newest addition to the NZ Great Walks. The walk starts in the west coast rainforest passing through lots of old gold mining history. It then climbs through the beech forest and dracophyllum to reach the open tops.
Every Great Walk has at least one Great Day - and for the Paparoa Track it is the day from Moonlight Tops hut to Pororari Hut. I like the fact that you can see Pororari Hut from Moonlight tops Hut - 6 and a half hours walk away. I like that Moonlight Tops is not named for the brightness that illuminated my nighttime ramble, but rather for George Fairweather Moonlight who discovered gold in the area and packed a lot into his 52 years. I like the variety for the day, open tops, old growth bush, stunted bonsai forest at the treeline, views across the escarpment, and more.
I like the fact that weka plumage is more like another flightless bird - penguins - than flighted birds.
We had a superb sunset glow from Pororari Hut as the sun was enveloped in the sea mist. The back into the ferny rainforest.
The principal attraction of Punakaiki is the small outcrop of oddly layered limestone. The geologists haven't completely determined how the rocks were formed, but, however it happened it makes for an interesting little walk. Better that the rocks was the White Fronted Tern colony which was full of courting and pre-nesting activity.
The courting behavior involved the male coming back to tempt the female by circling while showing off the fish that he has caught. This poor fellow worked hard, but in the end she just flew away.
James Cook called it the cape of foul winds, but my visit was in blue skies, full sun and a light sea breeze. Unfortunately it was too early in the season for any real activity at the seal colony.
The west coast has been mining both gold and "black gold" since the early days of European settlement. The old coal mining town of Denniston is mostly in ruins on the plateau just inland from the coast. When it was active the coal was sent down "the incline" railway, and the people went up in the empty carriages until the road was built. The locals have done a good job of bringing the past to life with excellent photos and interpretive signage.
Queen Charlotte Track