Monday, October 8, 2012

A Jolly Jaunt Across the Island

We had a very exciting weekend! We were invited to stay over at a very tiny place on the West Coast of the South Island called Nelson Creek. It is a beautiful place set in native bush and green farmland, with a beautiful tannin stained river meandering through, and evidence of long-abandoned mining activities everywhere. 

Now saying that Nelson Creek is tiny does not mean the place we stayed was tiny. I won't show you a photo because it is a private residence, but, as the future permanent residence of a relative of our friends, it is luxuriously appointed, with gorgeous views. The property also features a barn, an original miner's cottage and a "cabin" (which is also very luxurious). Lots of family members can come to stay, which is a good thing because the extended family is very large. 

The weather was extremely changeable, and we had heavy rain, hail, thunder, glorious sun, wind, warmth and a real chill over just one weekend. We wanted to have a look around the area and went to visit here:
Most South Islanders would be familiar with The Pancake Rocks, at Punakaiki. We were both young when we were went there last, and it was just as wonderful as we remembered. The only drawback was the freezing wind, hail and heavy rain. Lucky I got a new raincoat for the occasion. Johnny was well bundled up too. 

 The swirling pools were dramatic in the rough weather.
 One of the special features of The Pancake Rocks is the blowholes. I caught this one in action.
 We could taste the salt, and I was scared my camera would drown.
 The layers of rock are fascinating and beautiful.
 The drive around the coast is dramatic. Johnny took this photo out of the window of the car. It was so wet we could hardly see the view.
 Nelson Creek has a small camping ground with playground and some lovely, easy walkways through the bush.

 Shadow, the fox terrier, enjoyed his holiday, but hurt his foot, probably when he went (unsuccessfully) Weka hunting. Wekas are big brown flightless birds that are native to New Zealand. They are about the size of a hen. I'm sure the Maori people would have found them easy to catch as they are very inquisitive. Wekas are classified as a "vulnerable"  species and efforts are being made to encourage breeding. We saw some from the car and heard one peeping in the bushes, but I didn't get a photo.
 The property we stayed at is VERY interesting, and even has an old mine shaft. I decided not to go exploring as the entrance hole looked rather small and wet.
 Unfortunately there is no telephone in the old phone box. The cellphone coverage is a bit dodgy too. You have to stand in particular places to get any coverage.
 The waterwheel makes a lovely sound in the bushes.
 Shadow led the way down the lane to the main road through Nelson Creek. The church is not being used now. It would make an interesting holiday home.
 There's a wonderful swimming hole, complete with mining tunnel. Apparently people go exploring from the top end of the tunnel quite a long way away and appear out of this end like creatures from the deep.
 The water is so brown that I think you would end up with a tan after repeated exposure when swimming. I thought the water would be very chilly, but it isn't.
 We were lucky to be able to come back over Arthur's Pass because there was only a one day window between snowfalls. Today chains are needed. The mountains are spectacular.
 There was a Kea hopping around at Arthur's Pass when we stopped for a look. Keas are large parrots native to New Zealand. They are about 40cm long and sturdy, with rusty red colouring on their backs when they fly. They are only found in the South Island in mountainous areas. They are known for being very intelligent and inquisitive, and can be quite destructive with those large beaks and claws. Like the Weka, they are classified as a "vulnerable" species.
 Everyone should travel over Arthur's Pass in their lifetime, as it is so beautiful and awe inspiring.
I can't wait to go over again for another visit. It takes around three hours from our place, and is a fascinating drive. Hopefully we'll get to visit in the summertime and go swimming in the river, explore the walking tracks and go on some touristy visits around the West Coast.

1 comment:

Anonymous said... looks magical. Great photos. Sounds like you had fun.
The holiday home looks gorgeous (thanks for the emailed photos!!).

Love you,
Meg xx