And in a Cottage
24.11.2010 24 °C
We left Abel Tasman and headed for Murchison via St. Arnaud. In St. Arnaud we stopped at an information centre and discovered the weather was supposed to be rainy for the next couple of days. This did not suit our plans to hike in Neilson Lakes National Park. We grabbed a few pamphlets and headed to Murchison not willing to wait out the rain to hike in Neilson Lakes National Park. In Murchison we stayed at a Kiwi Holiday Parks. This caravan park is located on a working farm and is therefore considered a ‘farm stay’ by some. This farm had a wide variety of animals; sheep, deer, emus, chucks (chickens), pigs, and rabbits. Of course there are the resident ducks that seem to be the norm at any camping spot that we stay at. At this park Claire met and made friends with another 11 year old girl named Adelaide. Any free time that Claire had during the day she spent with Adelaide touring around the farm and checking out the animals. Her favourites were the baby rabbits and Ollie the 3 month old sheep that she was able to bottle feed.
Claire Feeding Freddie; Murchison Kiwi Park; Adelaide with her Bunny
Our second day at the park saw us doing some schooling and then heading a few kilometres west of the park to the Skyline Track. Adelaide joined us on this hike that took us to a look out over the town of Murchison. Although the town of Murchison is world renown for fly fishing in the Buller River, we gave this a pass in order to head to the west coast of the island.
We headed down to Greymouth on the west coast. Just outside of Greymouth is where 31 miners have been trapped in a mine. Two have gotten out after a couple of days, but the rest were still inside, unfound when two more explosions occurred. This virtually guarantees that the remaining minors, including 13 who were contractors working in the mine have passed away. This sad situation is not the reason why we were heading this direction but rather it was the desire to see the pancake rocks located near Punakaiki. These are a formation of rocks arranged in layers like pancakes. It was a very interesting rock feature. The erosion of many years created blowholes and sculpted passages through some of the rocks.
Ayden and Blowhole; Claire and Ayden at Pancake Rocks; Pancake Rock Formation; View From Road
As we headed down to Greymouth, Gwen saw a cottage that the Department of Conservation (DOC) rents out in one of the pamphlets she had picked up on our quick stop at St. Arnaud. This cottage was located in Hokitika the place that we wanted to stop at next. Thinking that this cottage was probably all booked up we thought we should give the DOC a call and check availability just in case. Well, as luck would have it the cottage was available for the exact 4 days that we needed it for!! We quickly headed to the DOC office in Hokitika and paid the incredible price of $35NZ per night for this cottage!!!!!! What a steal!! This was the find of the trip for accommodation so far. We were all so excited when we actually got to the cottage and realized that it was not some old run down dirty dump of a place (we had visions of this given the price point and availability). It is actually a very nice place. It is basic but very suitable for our needs. It is a two bedroom cottage with full kitchen, living room, eating area, bathroom, and laundry machine. We are situated about 20m from Lake Mahinapuai. The amazing thing about this cottage is the great view of snow capped mountains across the lake from our bedroom windows and also from the outside deck. Not too shabby eh!!
Lake at Doorstep of Cottage; Blogging in Cottage; Gwen in Lake Mahinapua Cottage; Lake Mahinapua Cottage; View From Cottage Bedroom
This was a lazy day, we got up late had a relaxed breakfast, did some laundry, hung around in our PJs for awhile, read for a little while and then had lunch (gotta love mornings like that!!) . We then headed to the town of Hokitika. This town is know as “Jade Country” for there are many Jade mines in this area. As a result, in this artsy town there are many opportunities to buy Jade. While in Hokitika we browsed in shops, took a short stroll on the beach and did some grocery shopping. We also noticed that Harry Potter 7 part 1 was showing in the Regent Theatre in town. After a roasted chicken and potato dinner (a real treat for we don’t often have access to an oven) we headed back into town to watched HP7P1 in a theatre of 416 seats, but only 12 patrons. The movie was enjoyed by all.
Today was the day we were going to Arthur’s Pass to do some alpine hiking. (FYI, alpine hiking is any hiking done above the tree line) Well guess what? When we got up in the morning there were clouds everywhere. We decided to go and take our chances with the weather as rain and wind can be quite unforgiving in an alpine environment, but we didn’t have many other options. After the 130km drive to our first walk, a 3hour return alpine walk called Temple Basin, the clouds were still around, although somewhat less dark. Not willing to be beaten by clouds we set off on our hike anyway. By the time we reached 100m above the car-park, the clouds had lost their look of menace and we had a great sunny hike up the mountain to a ski-hut where we had lunch. The panorama is of Mount Rolleston, quite a sight. When we got to the top, we had walked high enough to play in the snow. This is our third encounter with snow on our trip since last July 1st. It was a little treat as we have seen temperatures around 30 degrees Celsius recently. Of course as we threw a few snow balls we thought of all of our Canadian readers who are probable cursing the white stuff by now. On the way down all the switchbacks on the mountain, while looking up to take in the breathtaking views of the snow capped mountains around him, Paul rolled over on his left ankle. With instant swelling we were concerned about a breakage but this was not the case. Paul was able to hike very carefully down the mountain.
Mount Roleston. Looking West of the Temple Basin Hike; We are Small; Mount Roleston; Alpine Flower; Ayden in Alpine Country with Snow; Ski Shelter at Top of Walk; Ayden, Paul and Claire with Mount Roleston in Background; Claire in Alpine Country; Claire Playing in Snow; Paul in Alpine Country
Not to be dissuaded (although Gwen tried) we jumped in the KiwiCar and headed to the Devil’s Punch Bowl Falls hike located just outside of the Arthur’s Pass Village. This is a 1 hour hike that takes you up hundreds of stairs (we stopped counting after 235) to the base of a beautiful water fall. Admittedly we did not realize just how many stairs were involved in this hike when we started out. As you can imagine the stairs were not an easy task for a guy with a sprained ankle. But determined to see the falls, Paul pressed on. They were a beautiful sight but the hike did aggravate Paul’s ankle. We headed back to the cottage where Paul was able to finally take his shoe off and see the nice “egg” that had developed on the side of his sprained ankle. TLC of this ankle was in order for the next few days for sure!
Gwen and Claire at Devil's Punchbowl; Tree in Front of Devil's Punchbowl Falls; View from Devil's Punchbowl Walk; Bad Ankle
On the way back to the cottage, we stopped at a lookout to view the “rock shelter” over the highway. Rock ‘slips’ along the edge of the road are common given that the cliff faces are often right beside the road. This is typical all over New Zealand. What we had not seen in our travels is the rock shelters pictured below. Once out of the car to take a picture of the rock shelters, a Kea bird landed on top of the car. A Kea is a parrot like bird about the size of a sea-gull. It is green with a little sturdier build than a sea-gull. The Kea proceeded to try and rip off the rubber trim around the windows of our car. Two nearby kiwis (the people) said that these birds are destructive and like to pull apart anything they can get there considerable beaks around. They do not seem to be disturbed by people yelling at them or trying to shoo them away.
Rock Shelter over Road; Crazy Kea