With scenery so stunning it takes your breath away and sunsets so impressive even Instagram told us to tone it down. It takes a while to get around the largest region in New Zealand, but the journey is the best bit.
What to see
There are so much to see on the West Coast. Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes, Franz Josef Glacier Walk, Fox Glacier, Hokitika Gorge Walk and more. Depending on our pace, we could spend 2-3 days on the West Coast.
From Takaka Hill, we followed the Motueka Valley Highway, connected to State Highway 6, then cut through part of Kahurangi National Park before reaching the coastline. We planned to stop at Hokitika, about 370km drive for the day.
Over the mountain
As it was early sprint in New Zealand, we saw some of the most amazing floral and plants along the mountain slopes. On the way, we happened upon Tapawera Armistice Weekend 2018 at Tapawera. An event celebrating the centenary of the 1918 signing of the Armistice in Europe signalling the end of the First World War. We arrived on the last day of the three-day event, with many First World War themed activities and displays. We saw a lot of small planes parked on the grass field outside the town. I wounder whether people fly their own planes here for the event. We stayed only for a few minutes and left when the parade just about to start.
Later, we stopped at Berlins Cafe & Bar, located in the scenic Buller Gorge, for a cup of flat white. It’s a nice place to take in the scenery of the valley. Outside the cafe, several rusty Steam Punk sculptures scattered around the yard. The Buller Gorge Swing Bridge seemed nice from the picture, however it is another privately managed attraction and we still had a long drive ahead of us, so we decided to pass it.
By the sea
Inland Pack Track
Once we reached on the coastline, we were in the territory of Paparoa National Park, the third New Zealand national park we visited so far. Before we got to Punakaiki, we went on a short 90-minute hike along the Inland Pack Track for about. The track was really muddy at places, mostly due to the rain in the last few days. We turned back at the river bank as we were not ready to tread the river.
The Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes is one of the geological wounder on our must see list. Actually, the entire New Zealand is one big geological wounder! The geologist inside me was trying to figure out how the rock got into such an interesting formation. According to the information, it is still somewhat an unsolved mystery. The ocean view was unbelievably vast. Standing at the platform, once can almost made out the entire Northern West Coast coastline. Luckily we got here around 18:00, not crowed with tourists. However, it was at the low tide of that day, thus we did not see the blowholes in action.
We came to Motukiekie Beach to watch the sunset. This is another surprised location we came across. The rock formation protruding out in a distance looked like outline of a Viking ship or dragon boat. The lighting from the setting sun and mist rising from the ocean made them looked mysterious. As the sun was setting we did not spend enough time here. Next time!
The Cabin on the Beach is a nice little cozy Airbnb in Hokitika. The beach is only steps away from the cabin. When we arrived, the sun just settle below the horizon and the crescent moon hung in the deep blue sky. What a nice place to end the day and rest our feet.