Westport to Franz Josef

From Abel Tasman, the road took me south and inland before heading west to the coast.  I arrived at a small town called, Wesport which sports the only official safe to swim beach on the entire coast. It was 9 in the morning and a bit cool, so I did not swim, but in hindsight, I believe perhaps I should have since that may well have been my last chance to swim in the Tasman until I get to Australia.

Over the course of 2-3 days, I headed south from Westport as far as the road would take me and my first stop was Cape Foulwind first named by Lt. James Cook because of the treacherous winds he experienced in the area.

I walked the Cape Foulwind walkway along the coastal cliffs between the modern day lighthouse which is on the headland just to the right of the below photo and the Seal Colony, just around the headland on the left about an hour down the coast.  I’ll give you fair warning now, there are going to be quite a few videos and photos of the Tasman Sea in this post.  You’ll just have to bear with me because I can’t help myself because I LOVE it!

While walking either to or from the van, I fell into step with a local walking his new Labradoodle. I wondered aloud about the lack of surfers when it looked like a great surfing spot, at least to my in-expert, non-surfing eye.  He was quick to tell me surfers would really love to surf this bay but don’t dare due to the heavy shark population which is due to the seal colony just around the corner supplying a steady food source. Yikes.  I asked what kind of sharks and was told, mainly Great Whites and Blue Sharks (also known as, Great Blues), but others as well.  I did not swim.

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Heading a bit further down the coast I stopped at a few vista view points and a low tide walk I wanted to do called, The Truman Track.

Roadside vistas above and the sign on the gate to get down to the beach and onto The Truman Track.

Sadly the tide was not out far enough to drop down for a walk along the beach and amongst the towers of lime/sand stone, which is what the track is known for although you can see a few of nature’s sculptures in the video.  I didn’t swim here either.  Ha!  It’s hard to appreciate in the video, but the volume of water coming in and being sucked out of this little cove was quite something.

This next video is taken from very nearby and begins looking south and swings around to the same cove mentioned above.  Have I mentioned lately the Tasman is my new favorite Sea?  I just LOVE it!

Not long after that bit of gorgeousness, I landed at Punakaiki Beach Camp, my spot for the next two nights.  The big rains came to visit again, so my day of hiking and exploring was thwarted, but look at the sunset I got to experience on the first night.  Wow! And the Whitebait sandwich, in this case, a Whitebait fritter or patty on a piece of toasted Vogel’s bread I enjoyed for dinner.  I had been hearing about Whitebait sandwiches as something very unique to NZ and I think even to the west coast of the south island, so I tried one.  It was tasty.  I’m glad to have tried it, but I don’t need another.  😉

So after sitting in my tiny van for over 36 hours up at Punakaiki, cue the tiny violins…just kidding!  It’s all good.  I headed on down the coast in time to have breakfast and explore the little town of Hokitika, a spot I had been looking forward to visiting.  

Breakfast was delish.  I’m getting into the mushroom eggs benedict they offer around NZ and this one didn’t disappoint.  While eating, I found myself wondering if Claire of Phia Mushroom Farm fame grew the shrooms. Guess I’ll never know.

You may have heard of New Zealand Jade or Greenstone, called Pounamu found only in a few locations in southwest New Zealand.  It played/plays and important role in Māori culture because of its strength and beauty.  It was used to make tools (it can cut granite) as well as jewelry.  I had a loose idea of purchasing something made of Pounamu before I came and somehow knew Hokitika was the place I would find it, so after breakfast I enjoyed walking around town sorting the real from the fake and determining which carver’s work I liked best.  Tectonic Jade was the place for me as his pieces were outside the box, so to speak and the carver’s partner was helpful in narrowing my selection, which I’ll show you shortly, but first take a look at the Hokitika town sign.  Don’t you love it?

 

After making my Pounamu purchase and feeling really good about it, I headed out to Hokitika Gorge to check out the turquoise waters I had been seeing posted on NZ travel sites.  

The sign there says the turquoise water is formed by three ingredients:  Rock Flour (the grinding down of “schist and greywacke rock into a fine power), melted ice and minerals from ancient glaciers, and continuous addition of river water.  It sure was pretty.  Take a look at it and my new Pounamu necklace, which holds a lot of symbolism for me.

The river flowing through the Hokitika Gorge.

Many of you may have seen a version of this photo on FB, but this one shows my new necklace

Gosh, I plum forgot about Pancake Rocks, which I visited right after leaving Punakaiki and which is where I took the banner photo.  Similar to the smaller scale layered limestone seen in Kaikoura, Pancake Rocks was formed in much the same way 30 million years ago from minute fragments of dead marine creatures and plants landing on the seabed about 2 km below the surface. Immense water pressure caused the fragments to solidify in hard and soft layers and were then pushed to the surface by shifting tectonic plates, earthquakes, etc.  Here is another shot I took there.

After leaving Hokitika, I headed further south to my day’s destination, Franz Josef/Waiau which is glacier country. Yup, I’m in glacier country now folks. Unfortunately the rains had come again so no glaciers could be seen from where I was, so I enjoyed a really delicious dinner and enjoyed the rain from the comfort of my van along with a good book until time to go to sleep.  

So that’s enough for now.  The next post will be about my time here in Wanaka and my lovely new friends, both two and four legged, so stay tuned.

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Comments:

  • Mary Lou & June

    January 17, 2023

    Hi Neighbor!!! The water is amazing and the views–wow❣️ I love your necklace and you will cherish the memories. Enjoy your tiny van😉 and Mama says hello 💕

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    • Margie

      January 17, 2023

      Hello MaryLou and June!!! So great to hear from you! I was amongst some really gorgeous flower gardens yesterday and thought of you two. Photos in the next post. Big hugs to you both 💖

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  • Heather

    January 17, 2023

    Beautiful Margie! Love the necklace too. Have another story to share about Franz Joseph glacier!

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    • Margie

      January 17, 2023

      Looking forward to hearing your stories, Heather. 💖

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  • Cassie

    January 17, 2023

    Your necklace is very unique! Beautiful pics! Too bad you are getting so much rain. But with rain comes rainbows and adventures.

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    • Margie

      January 17, 2023

      I agree about my necklace being unique, for sure. 😆 it’s definitely unlike anything I’ve ever worn and I agree as well about the rain. It’s crazy, but as on the Camino, we just take it as it comes and proceed as best we can with a smile and an open heart, right? 💖

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  • Tena

    January 28, 2023

    I was wondering about those rock formations in the banner photo. Thanks for remembering to tell us about them. Tasman Sea – beautiful, yes. Absolutely. But I have to say I took one look at that first video and could see/feel the ferocious pull of the rip currents under the surface, and feel the water, which I imagine is frigid. It scared me to even think about dipping my toes in, thinking it could pull a person under in a flash. So happy to know they have all those warning signs up to keep people safe. May you swim safely and happily in the waters of the Tasman Sea in Australia!

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  • Tena

    January 28, 2023

    PS – love the necklace and seeing your beautiful smile

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