Our last stop for the day was the famous Punakaiki or Pancake Rocks and Blowhole. This place was famous and well trafficked by the tourist crowd. Alongside the road there was an information center, gift shop, toilet facilities and even an ice cream and coffee shop. I suppose that’s one way to make some money since the actual site was free to the public.
Ever since arriving in Auckland, I’d seen postcards and pictures of Punakaiki everywhere. I was a bit skeptical about whether it would live up to the beauty captured in photos that were no doubt photo edited. Also, after seeing the Twelve Apostles in Australia, the bar to blowing my mind with some rocks and water was admittedly very high at this point.
But once I started walking around and seeing the limestone rock formations, I found that Punakaiki was special in its own way. It’s unique formations were made millions of years ago by combining limestone deposits, sand and clay. As the Earth shifted and water levels changed, the rocks were exposed to the air, wind and rain above sea level. They carved and eroded the rock into the layers upon layers of rocks we see today. And when the conditions are right, the ocean pushes water through small fissures in the rock and creates dynamic water spouts.
At Punakaiki, I was able to continue my viewing of the battle between the storm and the sun. By the time we arrived, the storm clearly had the advantage with dark clouds looming overhead and shielding the sun’s rays. However, the spunky sun didn’t give up and revealed itself through every crack in the clouds. This phenomenon, in addition to the power of the ocean, was really beautiful.
By the time we arrived in Greymouth it was getting dark, and the people who signed up for the brewery tour really had to hustle to make it there on time. Alba and I were booked into the YHA, which was a bit far from where the rest of the Stray passengers were staying. It was nice to have a bit of time away from the group. The YHA Greymouth reminded me of a big old house and was quite comforting after semi-camping in Abel Tasman and city life in Wellington.
We checked in and met our roommate Lynn from Korea. She was one semester away from graduating university and was traveling through New Zealand before completing her studies. Lynn had already spent some time in Canada and was planning to go to Australia next. After chatting about our South Island travel plans, we realized that we were headed in the same direction and would probably bump into each other at the next couple of destinations. We agreed to try and meet up again as best we could.