Muscular Therapy

Day 16 Maruia Falls – considering yesterday’s mountainous expedition sleep for us both was a haphazard affair. Parked up five minutes from the falls next to the main road the night was filled with the sound of thundering water and passing traffic.

Nevertheless we were up early to marvel close to, the effect a 1929 earthquake, 7.3 on the richter scale caused a once flat flowing stream. Maruia Falls, beautiful, created by one of earths natural disasters. A short drop by comparison to what we have already witnessed but no less impressive.

Hamner Springs – great place to chill out and rest – our surprisingly few, especially my hip muscles – after a ‘mountainous climb’. Relaxing together in the many man-made pools temperatures between 32° – 38° and three natural sulphur pools fed from a bore hole. The latter, long-suffering could only moan at a) the heat, up to 42° and b) the smell ‘like sitting in a bath of rotten eggs!’

Drive to Kaikaura and our stop for two nights ‘Alpine Pacific Holiday Park’ for Whale-watching tomorrow. Great fully powered site, fantastic showers, laundry facilities, every thing clean and tidy. The best bakery next door, Danish pastries to die for, light and oh so tasty.

Our first meal out in two weeks, Thai Siam restaurant a short ten minute walk from our camp site. The service here was excellent. We shared starters of Thai spring rolls and pork spare ribs followed by the special Penang salmon curry and stir fried chicken noodles. Food, piping hot, tasty, a real treat, and no washing up to do!

Day 17 – Huge disappointment, whale watch cancelled rough seas and zero visibility. Waiting list now for eleven thirty, not holding out much hope though.

Cancelled again, now booked on to nine thirty tomorrow morning, long sufferings itinerary falling by the wayside again! Weather appalling, heavy rain.

Seal spotting on the new dramatic coastline at Kaikoura as a result of the November earthquake. The sea bed rose up by one metre and in some places four metres. The seals seem to be loving the extra land gained for lazing around in the sun or as today, pouring rain.

Top of the South

Day 13 – Two tired beings – on account of last nights storm, set off once the rain eased at nine ish for a three hour drive to Wharariki Beach Campsite at the top of the South Island.

We arrived to the wind blowing a hooli and a threatening sky, normal for here we were told. A quick lunch, cagoules packed – in case – we set off up and over hill pastures, a twenty minute scenic – when in New Zealand is it not – walk with grazing sheep and cows to the beach. The sun had put in an appearance, fleetingly.

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And …words almost fail me a beach like no other we had seen or wind we had experienced at the same time before, anywhere! High dunes lined our route to the receding sea, wind so strong whisking up the sand, sending it straight at us, our legs burning with the force of tiny sand particles spattering our bare skin.

The surface of the beach looked like a lunar landscape with the patterns created by the drifts of dry sand swirling against the damp. We walked backwards to alleviate the sting on our faces, leaning back in to the wind it was so strong as to support my full weight. Only once we reached the sea and walked along to huge rocks did we find some respite from the biting gales.

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Here in the calm we could fully open our eyes – once we had cleared them of grit – to take in the full beauty of this rugged and inhospitable place.

6pm Low tide – The wind had still calmed slightly, we desperately hoped to see the resident family of seals missed on our earlier visit. Taking a different route this time lower on the slopes, slightly more protected we made our way down and through thick forest, this time arriving at the opposite end of the beach.

We were totally unprepared for the sight before our eyes, and from our earlier visit had no idea of the true length of this extraordinary beach. Monstrous rocks towered from the sand all shapes and sizes, arches and caves hollowed out by the raging seas. The tide was completely out now and the sand was littered with these huge sculptures and shallow pools.

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The seal pups we found back at the far end in a deep pool where the wind at lunchtime had made walking and photography impossible. Four in total we watched from the rocks as some swam fast in circles jumping and rolling in the water, diving down, deeper invisible then to our gaze.

 

One arrived from behind a rock flopping across the surface in an ungainly awkward manner until it slid unceremoniously in the pool and became graceful and sleek through the cold water – kind of like me on a bad day!

We both agreed the trek back was well worth it to this diverse beach that has everything to offer in spades, the weather conditions actually made it all the more exciting.

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