The Wild West Coast

Our journey over to the west coast took us through several hours of remote farmland until we arrived into the small town of Westport. With plenty of time to make our way down the coast, we decided to head north first.

After driving for a further hour, we found Gentle Annie’s Camping Ground where we decided to stay for the night.

It was a cold day, and instead of exploring further along the coast we decided to spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing in the warmth of the on-site cafe, the Cow Shed 

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The huge campsite was a golf course in a previous life, and is situated in a beautiful beachside location. We went for afternoon walk along the beach, checking out the many driftwood sculptures that had been built on the sand.

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After Rachael had expertly cooked our dinner in the campsites clay pizza oven, we arrived back at the van just in time to watch the sun setting across the beach. 

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It was an even colder night in the exposed campsite, and we were very slow to get moving in the morning.

When we finally did, we returned south to Westport before stopping at nearby Tauranga Bay. Despite the stormy conditions there was still some very brave surfers chancing their luck on the huge waves.

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The highway from here continued to hug the remote coastline until we arrived at the small settlement of Punakaiki. The main attraction here, and one of the most visited sites on the entire coast is the famous Pancake rocks. 

The limestone rocks of this section of coastline have been heavily eroded to leave columns of harder rock that look very much like stacks of pancakes.

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We followed the wooden boardwalk around the headland, taking a closer look at the interesting rock formations. We were fortunate to time our visit with high tide and watched as the rough sea came crashing through several blowholes.

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Our next stop was at Hokitika, a quaint gold rush town full of historic buildings. The town is now better known for its pounamu or greenstone, a type of jade only found in New Zealand. We wandered around the towns many jewellery shops, with Rachael having to be dragged out of several of them. 

Finding our way to the edge of the town, we wandered along the seafront where the towns name had been erected using some of the masses of driftwood piled up on the beach.

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Our guidebook suggested that while in town we should grab some Fish and chips from Dulcies Takeaways and eat them at the aptly named Sunset Point. It sounded like a great idea and we did exactly that, finding a perfect spot overlooking the ocean.

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It was beautiful to watch, with the sun setting over the ocean on one side and pink sky lighting up the mountain ranges to the other. Once darkness began to fall, we quickly climbed back into the van, and began our journey inland through the town and to our campsite.

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The following morning we took a slight detour and continued inland, before arriving at Hokitika Gorge. It was still early and we were the first people in the car park. We followed a walking trail through thick forest before crossing a swing bridge over the steep gorge. 

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We were amazed by the very unusual milky blue water flowing through the gorge below us. The trail continued back into the forest before reaching a further viewpoint with great views back along the gorge.

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We returned back along the trail to the van, and after a quick breakfast we were back on the road, ready to continue our journey along the coast.

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