Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pancake Rocks & Blowholes In Punakaiki

The moment we entered Greymouth, I saw these view.


Palm trees from California?

Since I was driving, I immediately asked Mich to take some photographs, because I somehow felt that those palm trees made the town looked so much like California haha! So, that was my encounter with the California of New Zealand I mentioned in this entry lol!

Greymouth is the largest town in the West Coast region of New Zealand, with a population of almost 10,000. We made a brief stop here to have our lunch, before continuing our journey to Punakaiki, located 45 kilometers towards the north. It was quite something for a town this small to have a few fast-food restaurants; KFC and McDonald's being two of them. We went for the latter because they have this Angus the Third burger, sold only for a limited time.


Angus The Third, which has American cheese, sliced red tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, pickles, mayonnaise, and tomato chilli relish. The sandwiches are on sourdough buns.

When Mich first told me about this burger, I misheard her and heard something like "August the Third". From then on, I use that name to refer to this burger every time. Luckily it was her who did the order at the counter. Otherwise, I'm pretty sure I will make the Kiwi staff's eyes at the counter turn like this @.@

Since we were already at the town, we stopped at the Warehouse to do some shopping. Mich had to get a pair of shoes because she left her boots behind. See-lar. Always wanna say me a forgetful fish, now she ownself also forgot her own boots haha!

After she got herself a pair of gold flats, we went to the town centre, to buy another thing - her contact lens case. Again, that's because she left it at home. See, I think I have enough reasons to officially declare her as the most suitable pelapis of my forgetful disease haha!


As if it is living up to its name, the water flowing in Grey River is grey. But no, the river wasn't name for the colour of the water, but it was actually named after a New Zealand politician Sir George Grey.


A fisherman statue on the seawall.


A creative way of paying with words by the Bank of New Zealand, which made it read "A New Land".


Stopped at a random lookout point halfway through our journey to Punakaiki. That's the Mitsubishi Lancer, our rented car.

After almost an hour of driving, we finally reached Punakaiki, the final stop for the day. The place is famous for this place are the pancake rocks and the blowholes. The girlfriend-cum-trip planner timed our journey so that we would arrive there during the high tide, because that's the best time to view the blowholes.

However, we arrived there an hour earlier than the time it was supposed to be high tide on that day. So, we made some slight changes on our plan. We decided to walk through the reserve area that lead to the pancake rocks, have a look around at the pancake rocks, drive to our accommodation place located fifteen minutes away, settle down, and return for the high tide later on.


The girlfriend can be the best planner and also the worst photographer at the same time. "Punakaiki" became "Punaka". Damn fail man this picture haha!


After walking through the dark canopy of wind-shorn coastal forest, mostly covered with cabbage tree and nikau (New Zealand's only native palm) for about twenty minutes, we reached a bridge that climbs to a viewpoint above Putai.


 There are a few spots to see the rock formation but the most spectacular ones are in the Putai area.


Standing above the Putai viewpoint area, overlooking the Tasman Sea in the background.

So, what cause the formation of this unique rocks?

The pancake rocks are limestone formations 30 million years ago from minute lime-rich fragments of dead marine creatures and plants, that deposited on the seabed, 2 kilometers below the surface. They were then overlaid by weaker layers of soft mud and clay. Immense water pressure caused the fragments to solidify in hard and soft layers.

Gradually, seismic action lifted the limestone in the seabed above the sea level to form coastal cliffs and coastline. The sea, wind and mildly acidic rain have since etched out the soft layers to form the unusual and bizarre rock formations we see today. (reference)


Pancake rocks in Punakaiki.


We were lucky that the direction of the wind, sunlight and sea breeze was at the right position that we got to see rainbow formation at the pancake rocks!


A close-up shot of the rocks.

When conditions are right, heavy ocean swells thunder into the caverns beneath the rocks and huge water spouts blast skywards through the blowholes in a truly spectacular sight. Mich went to the Department of Conservation Visitor Centre to ask about the high tide time for the day and also when's the best time to catch the blowholes in action. 

According to the lady there, there are three conditions to see the full effect of the blowholes; strong current, high tide, direction of the wind, which influences the current. 


We were supposed to see something like this under those three conditions. (photo credit: Paul & Kelly)


But ours was like this haha!


At least we saw some water sprayed out from the blowholes lol!

Nevertheless, I consider ourselves quite lucky to see the blowholes effect partially because it doesn't happen all the time. The blowholes only sprays when the sea is very rough. Besides that, it does emit a noise like a train in a tunnel as the sea surges through subterranean passages.

There were a few times where the wind was blowing so strong towards our direction, that we could feel the droplets of sea water on our faces. When it dried off, we felt some salt sticking on our face. To get rid of them, I just licked them away haha! 


Some strange folks are out there with the wind, the rain and the sea, having a feast by eating away the pancakes lol!


Strong waves crashing on the rocks. We spent like ten minutes enjoying this lol!


This was at the southern side of the pancake rocks area.


Our first sunset in New Zealand.


Like I have mentioned before most of the tourist attraction spots in New Zealand are free-of-charge and they only rely on the donations from the visitors to maintain the place.

For the night, we stayed in Te Nikau Retreat Backpackers, about ten minutes away from the pancake rocks. We stayed in the Ruru Lodge, the main lodge. Ruru Lodge; quite a cute name, eh? Haha! We could tell that the lady at the reception wasn't a native Kiwi, based on her funny accent. We later found out that she came from Wales.

Overall, it was a nice place for backpackers style accommodation. There were four rooms in our lodge, but two of them were empty during our stay.


Ruru Lodge, just opposite the reception.


Our double ensuite room. The rooms come fully made up with fresh linen and duvet. It was cosy but as it was winter, the night was slightly cold. 


The lounge which has a fireplace as well. We were tired already that evening that we didn't really spend time here.


This is by far, one of my favourite kitchen throughout our road trip.


That's because they have a wide choices of spices for us haha!


A small corner for basic food in the kitchen. I don't think this is possible in Malaysia because I'm sure the shelve will turn empty, so does the money lol!


Fresh eggs for forty cents haha!


We took some time to hike through the Truman Track, which was about a fifteen-minute walk, one way.


Stopped for vain photos like this several times and in the end, we took much longer to reach the beach lol!


This is the other end of the Truman Track; Tasman Sea!

We cooked dinner on our own that night, using the ingredients we had brought from Christchurch and Greymouth. The dinner wasn't something too complicated, just a simple but a balanced one.

Sandwiches with spicy chilly-flavoured tuna and chicken patties, scrambled eggs, salad, kiwi and nectarine as deserts.


That's the chef, busy preparing our dinner.


Golden kiwi fruits is like a must for every meals lol!


Fresh baked bread and muffins for sale. 

Guess what, those muffins became my alarm clock on the next morning haha! I'll tell why in the next entry.


D-Tourist said...

Being vain and proud of it, thats the way to go ..yeah man..! :) kekeke!!! :)

calvin said...

@ d-tourist:
haha! i admit on the first part, but whether i am proud of it, i am not so sure lol!

Kae Vin said...

this view in pukinaka.... wait. punakaki...was awesome!

and you better start planning tokyo trip! :P

calvin said...

@ kae vin:
two attempts and you still got it wrong haha! xD
it's punakaiki!

don't worry about the tokyo trip. everything is going according to plan ;)