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C2C’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 19 Nov 2008

Location: Punakaiki, New Zealand

Map19th November

Punakaiki to Lake Kaniere
Arrived at the site quite late. One thing we hadn’t quite focused on was the prevalence of sandflies – especially at (but not limited to) dusk. The little sods are everywhere and attach themselves to the skin, sawing a 1mm hole and lapping blood. They seem to be repelled only by a super strong formulation of Deet (almost certainly banned everywhere else in the world), liberally applied. B (Mr. ‘I’m fine in shorts and walking sandals’) discovered them last night and ended up leaping around and slapping his legs like a particularly enthusiastic Bavarian to the amusement of all.

We had good intentions to visit the pancake rocks before breakfast (!) but fortunately we were saved by the Rough Guide which said that one of the main tourist buses stopped there at 8.30 on its way down the coast. Enough excuse for us to take longer getting up, wander to the internet café in the ‘town’ (Department of Conservation information centre, a café and a craft shop), have a coffee, check emails and upload diary and photos! Eventually we did walk to see the stupendous formations of layered limestone rock, resembling stacks of pancakes, which have been created by ‘stylobedding’ a chemical process in which the pressure of overlying sediments creates alternating durable and weaker bands. There are also huge caverns beneath which cause the surf to crash in and spout up between the rocks – apparently better at high tide but we’d missed that by hours!

The whole area is part of the vast Paparoa National Park and we walked for about an hour alongside the Pororari River on one of the tracks sensitively managed by the DOC, Apart from the variety of rainforest trees, we were particularly fascinated by a family of wekas. (Weka are flightless native birds which have chicken-like bodies and longish beaks.) They were foraging for lunch for themselves and their three babies and so intent on their task that we were ignored by them. It did remind us that lunch was next on our agenda. B suggested further research on the Weka – specifically, its flavour - but was dissuaded.

In the afternoon we arrived at Lake Kaniere, about 20 km inland from the coast from Hokitika, and are currently staying in a house, very generously loaned by friends of the Halfords. It backs onto unspoilt native forest and we have never stayed in a place so beautiful and devoid of human noise. We have managed to identify some of the birds which are not so quiet! It feels very strange to be in such a large well equipped house having got used to our campervan but we’re not complaining. Just feel a bit weird in all this luxury after being cramped for 2 weeks.