Oct 16, 2009

The Great Final New Zealand Expedition Part 2

So we'd made it too the west coast, but due to the delays caused by my car we arrived in the total dark.

Meaning on day 2 we awoke not really knowing what was outside our tent...
We did know somewhere very close by was the ocean, as the sounds it made soothed us to sleep (though the exhaustion of the whole first day probably helped too!). Wandering a mere 20 meters from our tent this is the sight that welcomed us...

We didn't cover much actual distance on day 2. We DID see an awful lot though as we drove a 75km stretch of coast. We also checked out several of the dirt roads that led into the local forests.
Hopping in the car we began our tiki tour of the coast. The weather was outstanding as you can see. Not a single cloud in the sky, and it stayed that way all day.

I feel in love with the area instantly, as should be evident from the local vegetation.
I specifically wanted to hit around Greymouth due to the plants. My current book Ghosts of Gondwana goes into a lot of detail about NZ's plant record (and how most of it is million year old stuff blown over from Australia). In this area of the west coast though, survives some of the few plants that are truly descended from before NZ split from Gondwana in the time of the Dinosaurs.

I was quite pleased to say the least.

We spent most of the day just driving and checking out the local forests and swamps. It was awe inspiring.
The only single "attraction" I had hoped to see, was the Pancake rocks. Walking with Dinosaur fans should recognize them, and they were just too cool in person! If you subbed the flocks of Terns soaring about the place with Pterosaurs (an automatic with an imagination the size of mine!) it was like stepping back in time!

While at the rocks, I had to hit the bathroom. While I was doing my thing, this bird wandered up to check out Lady R outside. Lady R recognized it was significant, but didn't know what type of bird it was...

Coming out of the washroom, I was dumbfound to see Lady R right up and close to a Weka. Not that the proximity was the surprising thing, Weka's are notorious for their curiosity and feisty, bold personalities. A friend of mine has a picture in which 2 wild ones are crawling all over him.

It was rather I had been told (misleadingly it turns out) that Wekas were extinct on the mainland, and now only currently existed on predator free islands. In reality it turns out that they are not threatened on such islands, but clusters of them endure on the mainland. The west coast being the largest of these.

This made my day... Saying something as the forests and Pancake rocks were huge highlights of my whole 3 years in New Zealand!

We then swung back through Greymouth to briefly check out the largest centre of the west coast. Not that it is big, even by New Zealand standards. It certainly isn't my favourite town, but its surroundings would easily entice me to move there (if I were staying in NZ).

Lady R was very fond of this fisherman statue, which reminded her of a sculpture her mother owns (though their family version always had a Penguin between its legs I'm told).

We wrapped up the day with a visit to "Shantytown", a Goldmining themed heritage park. It was quite nice. Possibly a little overpriced, but not at all unenjoyable.

I've seen several similar era recreations, but this one took the cake for having what I associate as prairie and mountain buildings and settings, and sticking them in a prehistoric jungle!

We then casually made our way to Hokitika and set up camp. While there we befriended an Australian couple, and took them and their daughter to see the local glowworm dell. Though much bigger then Dunedin's local glowworm site, it was no glowworm cave. At least it was free!
This brought day 2 to a nice conclusion.


davidmaas said...

Those palms look really ... ancient!

Albertonykus said...

Spectacular stuff! Your adventures may not be fraught with danger like Traumador's, but they're no less outstanding!

Raptor Lewis said...

New Zealand is truly a beautiful country! It's nice that you and Lady R are getting a uniques chance to do this. I'm glad you both are having a good time. :)

Dinorider d'Andoandor said...

from before NZ split from Gondwana in the time of the Dinosaurs!! great!

Of course I recognized those rocks from that "Giant of the Skies" episode!