Friday, 20 March 2009

Greymouth to Farewell Spit

Our night at Arthur's Pass was rather cold, so after our walk up Avalanche Peak, we drove to Greymouth. Our campsite was besides the long grey pebble beach.

Running short of time, we had to rush up the coastal road to the north the next day. We wanted to top up the tank in Greymouth (following sound advice from other travellers), but all petrol stations were closed due a power cut affecting a third of the west coast. We had no choice but to press on with a less than full tank.

The coastal road was beautiful, all little coves and sandy beaches with rainforest covering all available space. We stopped at the interesting Pancake Rocks in Punakaiki. No-one quite knows how they came about. Exhausted from the drive on extremely winding roads, we stayed in Motueka.

The next day, we drove to Golden Bay and Farewell Spit, a 25-kilometre long sand strip at the top of the South Island. We did a brisk coastal walk to the nearby Wharariki Beach which is one of the loveliest beaches we've seen. It boasts sand dunes, a seal colony and two rock islands, called Archway Islands. We watched two baby seals playing in a sheltered tidal pool and munched on our sandwiches amongst the dunes.

The highest point on the walk rewarded us with great views of Cape Farewell, the most northerly point of the South Island. We continued along the coast to Pillar Point Lighthouse where we finally got a good look at Farewell Spit. On the way to our campsite in Pohara, we saw hundreds of black swans in Golden Bay along with lots of other birds. It was a nature lover's paradise.