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The Wet Coast

by Pamela Blalock and John Bayley

We had 10 days before we closed on the house, so we decided to head out to the west coast. We'd spend a few days exploring there, then head back to Christchurch to pick up our stuff and the cats, and go home to Nelson. We were in a bit of shock that we had just bought a house and committed to our move in a big way. But we were happy and excited too. Of course there wasn't too much else we could do in that regard for 10 days, so we continued on in exploration mode.

We headed west and as we approached Murchison, I noticed a cool billboard shaped like a coffee cup, and decided I must check out this café. We found the cappuccino and desserts and atmosphere were all great, and decided we would have to make our way back here! After a nice rest, we pressed on for Westport. Of course, this sounds like we were cycling, but I'll admit to being in the car - driving is much more tiring for me than cycling!

The road from Westport to Greymouth was quite nice, and the scenery was pretty impressive. We were having glorious clear weather, and even had a view of Mt. Cook, one I hear is pretty rare, given that it is more often overcast or rainy! We stopped in Punkaiki to check out the Pancake Rocks and Blow Holes. Here's Pamela getting a close up look - no the pancakes aren't edible!

The blowholes are impressive at high tide. As the tide comes in, it shoots up through the passages and forms geysers. On a sunny day the rainbows are magnificent. We were truly blessed with the weather. I don't know why folks call it the wet coast. It was glorious, and from what we saw in the paper - the rest of the country was getting all the rain!


After spending quite a bit of time watching the geysers, we headed onto Greymouth. We walked out to the mouth of the Grey River to watch the giant waves crashing against the sea wall. It was pretty impressive. The next day, we decided to head inland for a ride through some forestry land. One thing we are learning about forestry land is that the roads change often, so our great topo maps weren't always the most useful. We did find our way to Shantytown, a recreation of an old goldmining village, and then aimed toward Lake Brunner, but at some point realised the mountains and lake were on the opposite side of the road from where they should be. We were turned around, but eventually made our way back to Greymouth.