We began this week glamping in Golden Bay – sleeping in a tent huge enough to house more than a double bed and two comfy chairs, with electricity enough for a toaster, boiling hot water, and charging our devices. This, complemented by an outdoor kitchen, all set on the landlady’s lovely permaculture property where she and her family live connected to the land, was memorable. All along on our visit to NZ – said N-Zed by the way, I have seen references to breakfast that include a variety of spellings different than I am used to: breakie, breaky, brekkie, brekky… our glamping brekies included fresh eggs from the land’s free range chickens and fruits from trees on site.
What was not so wonderful here too were the sand flies which we started encountering last week. Unfortunate for Loren they like his skin, so he either has to coverup better or endure the endless itching that their bites cause. On a happier note, we tramped Wainui Falls Track, though Loren had some slow going with his injured glut from last week. It was a short hike, with another suspension bridge, and sights worth the effort, both there and on the return coastal road.
The next morning we left well before dawn in order to return south over cyclone-damaged Takaka Hill during open hours to public traffic. To my chagrin I missed a rock on the curvy dark road despite our bright headlights, and caused a flat tire before we had arrived at the convoy site. Except for our car lights and flashlights it was pitch black, then to our further dismay we discovered our rental car had no jack! Few and infrequent others on the road just drove on by as we dialed for road service. It felt futile because of the restricted travel times and the scarce population on the South Island. While I spoke to the answering service, three good Samaritan hunters drove up, spoke briefly with Loren, pulled over and with their own jack, quickly affixed our spare. They finished the job with ample time for us all to make it over the hill! We could not thank them enough.
We had the tire attended to in Motueka before our long drive to the wild west coast. We picked up Great Coast Road where it begins, in Westport, where we stocked up on gas and supplies. We then stopped to hike at Cape Foulwind Walkway. A lighthouse, coastal views, and a seal colony were our visual highlights on this easy walk. Actually for Loren it was not so easy. I noticed bruising on the back of his leg for the first time, but he felt that overall the walk did his glut some good.
The coastline on the way to our AirBnB was incredible…
In the morning we joined our sweet hosts with their playful puppy Peanut for their coffee truck at the Fox River Market. While there two of our newest friends from the Netherlands who we had met last week were at the market too! What a lovely surprise to see them. We then drove to nearby Pancake Rocks and Blow Holes in Punakaiki. It was another happy reunion to find my Bikram Yoga teacher training classmate who Loren and I had seen in Wellington recently was here too, and to meet her beau! We plan to see them again in Christchurch where they call home. Who would have thought that we would have such fun meetups all on the same morning.
The surf along this coast is so strong that it roils beneath and up inside land flanked by the sea, making surprise splashes and even mimicing a whale’s blowhole every so often. We spent the early afternoon with a beach picnic and afterwards collected pieces of rock that might be jade, that the tide stirs up and leaves along the shore. Then we went for a peaceful couple of hours kayaking on the Pororari river in Paparoa National Park.
The next day Loren and I continued along the Great Coast Road to its end at Greymouth. Instead of our idea to pick up a jack from the rental car office, we learned that the jack is hidden under the front passenger seat… the one place we had not thought to look. Since our car had no vehicle manual, we had been clueless. And we picked up a tube of heat rub here, as another large bruise had appeared higher up on Loren’s leg. He had continued pain, which he realized was not so much in his glut but in his thigh bicep.
We arrived at Fox Glacier after another long day of driving. We did not have even a glimpse of Mount Cook – the tallest peak in New Zealand, for the low clouds that soon released their raindrops. Despite overcast weather the next day, we hiked to see the Franz Joseph Glacier. As we had been told, the waterfalls were abundant. It was a rewarding experience, but Loren’s leg was showing little sign of improvement and at certain times he still felt excruciating pain. We stopped in at the health clinic only to find that they had no doctors in town that day. So, we set up an appointment for the next day where we would then be – in Wanaka.
Rain. While driving from Fox Glacier to Wanaka, the additional predicted rain began, and continued, and continued. The nice and competent doctor diagnosed a torn muscle which can cause such bruising, and which the wonderful physical therapist who we saw next and three times in all, confirmed. Loren is dutifully doing his prescribed daily exercises now, as we await the tear to heal naturally in the next six weeks to six months. We took the opportunity to take a short walk around Lake Matheson even though without the sun, the famous reflection of Mount Cook would not be visible. Still the sight we saw was worth the effort for the easy hike.
It rained hard all through that night, momentarily letting up then immediately resuming heavily, and repeated that pattern for hours. I was grateful that we were staying put in Mount Aspiring National Park, where we still are. We knew that the fall weather had turned cold, but when the clouds partially cleared, we found new fallen snow atop the visible mountain peaks and foothills. We are definitely among what are called The Southern Alps, but where snow usually does not arrive until May. We had a good day to be inside for the prescribed down day that Loren’s “Physio” had prescribed.