Sunday February 12th – Monday February 14th | Greymouth 🥞 –Picton ⛴ – Ohakune 💤 | 753 km 🚙 + 90 km ⛴
The last few days have been pretty uneventful. The most interesting thing we saw on the way to Greymouth was a one-lane car bridge with a railway track on it. Most bridges in New Zealand are one-lane only with a sign indicating whether you have the right of way or not. This train/car bridge was the first of its kind we have seen and tops the roundabout with a train track running through the middle of it which I thought was going to win the prize for weirdest road sighting.
On Sunday we left Greymouth and drove to Picton. Just north of Greymouth is Punakaiki Marine Reserve and the Pancake Rocks. These are really cool limestone rock formations that, as the name suggests, look like a stack of pancakes piled on top of one another. Scientists know that they formed under the sea 35 million years ago but are unable to explain exactly how they came to be in layers.
We carried on our drive to Picton and arrived at Waikawa Bay Holiday Park around 5:30pm. Supper was my long, lost favourite meal from Scotland: mince pie with Heinz beans … the can with the little sausages in them! It was a beautiful evening so I changed into shorts (first opportunity in a while), we set up our tent and played cards until bedtime while enjoying a bottle of New Zealand wine. There was a lot of rocks with cute little sayings on them dotted throughout the campsite but my favourite has to be:
The bad news is time flies.
The good news is you’re the pilot.
Monday morning was wet! It started to rain halfway through the night, began pouring in the morning and didn’t seem to want to quit so we browsed through the shops on the high street until the sun came our around 11am and we could take the tent down. Oh! I almost forgot about the pantless breakfast dude. Some guy came in to the kitchen to retrieve his food from the fridge. He had a jacket on, since it was raining, but no trousers! Val thought that he didn’t have any undies on either as you could see his white ass but from my viewpoint I could see them wedged up there … lovely breakfast sight…
We boarded the Interislander ferry around 1:45pm, departed the South Island at 2:15pm and relaxed until we reached Wellington three and a half hours later. The ferry was quite nice. There were a couple different cafes, a bar, live music, two movie theatres, a kids play area and two lounges you could pay a small fee to upgrade in to. The first movie option was Why Him. I’d already seen it (hilarious, by the way) so went with Assassins Creed instead. The cinema was basically a big-ish TV on the wall in front of ten rows of six theatre-style chair but it was a good way to kill time (and brain cells… it was a dumb movie).
Windy Wellington sure lived up to its name. It might been worse than Lethbridge. While trying to decide what to pick up for a quick supper Val made the ultimate dad-joke and suggested we stop at “Wendy’s in Windy Wellington”; pronouncing Wendy like Windy. The apple really doesn’t fall too farm from the tree. Instead we made a quick pit stop at New World Supermarket for some eats.
Three hours later we arrived in Ohakune. We stayed at LKNZ. This is the nicest hostel I’ve ever been in. It was modern with what looked like brand new kitchens, a large private bathroom that housed a shower with a door (that’s luxury right now … most hostels have small showers with curtains), and a very comfortable bed. Okahune is a big ski town so it was very quiet at this time of year but apparently it is hopping in winter.
Tuesday February 14th | Ohakune 🚿 – Waitomo 🌌 – Rotorua 🌋 | 369 km
We aren’t haven’t very good luck with weather on this trip. It rained almost all morning on Tuesday as we made the drive to the Waitomo Caves. The restaurants there are very expensive (tourism at its finest!) so, since we’re cheap Scots and had a tonne of time to kill, we made our way back to Te Kuiti for lunch. There was a little cafe called Tiffany’s (yes you could have breakfast there) where we each had a curry and then shared a delicious cookie. I can’t remember the name of it but I have to find the recipe! I think it was Cornflakes, nuts, cherries and honey mixed together and baked then dipped in chocolate.
At three o’clock we checked in to Cave World. We donned our wetsuits (it is REALLY difficult to put on an already-wet wetsuit and I felt like I was wearing a soiled diaper… really gross but it’s my blog and I can write whatever I want …), a wetsuit jacket, and boots and hopped in the van to take us to the beginning of our adventure. The caves are made of limestone that was pushed up out of the sea bed around 30 million years ago during a massive earthquake that raised the ocean floor up approximately 40 meters. Over time water eroded through the limestone creating nearly 350 caves within a 50km radius of Waitomo. The tour involved some walking, a (slightly scary) story (one of those ones where you know something is going to happen but even the anticipation of the outcome doesn’t stop you from screaming), floating in our tube, and a sweet water slide at the end. It was amazing to see the glowworm dotted all over the ceiling of the cave. They’re such a magnificent shade of turquoise it really is quite a magical experience.
After a quick shower and hot chocolate to warm up we headed off to stay with some friends relatives, the Tews. They own Off Road NZ, an adventure experience company near Rotorua. They were so welcoming and invited us in to their home with supper, drinks and a warm bed for two nights. They were also being visited by a couple of Kingdons from Minnedosa – small world!