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Paparoa National Park

Friday 30th October 2015

sunny 16 °C

Today was our first day full day in Punakaiki and the Paparoa National Park and our intention was to stay nearby and explore some of the countryside on our doorstep. We drove northwards a short distance up the coast initially stopping at the Irimahuwhero Lookout. There were great views of the coast in either direction. Looking back southwards also gave a good indication of the local geology, particularly the unusual rock strata. We got chatting to a bus driving who was taking passengers from Nelson down to Franz Josef and he kindly offered to take a our photograph.

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We carried on driving in the same direction until we arrived at at the great named Woodpecker Bay. We parked up here and had a look at the beach. Like some of the bays we had seen in the North island this one was also littered with lumber.

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The ocean seemed quite wild and even if it was warm enough it wouldn't have invited me to go in for a swim. From there we wallked over the road and crossed the old and somewhat dilapidated Fox River Bridge. This had signs saying that it was unsafe and that you progressed at your own risk. It looked safe enough to us and as there were only two of us walking on it we were sure we would be fine. Once we got to the other side we walked through a cave that came out a short distance down the river bank.

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I didn't much like it inside even though it was more like a short tunnel, and it was very wet and drippy. We made our way back across the bridge and started walking down the Fox River Track. It was quite wet and muddy in places and a few short up and down stretches but was still pretty easy walking. As we wanted to do other things later in the day we only walked for about half an hour along the track. We stopped once the path got near to the river and scrambled through a bit of undergrowth to get on the the stony river beach.

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It was lovely and peaceful and I loved the tropical vegetation including many tree ferns on the opposite bank. We stayed there for a while before retracing our steps back along the footpath to the car.

We wanted to go and have another look at the blowholes and other features at the Pancake Rocks. The main blowhole was throwing out a lot of water, sometimes it was more of a mist and other times more like a fountain with clearly discernible droplets of water. Because it was quite a sunny day most spurts ended up with a lovely rainbow across the hole. We found it fascinating and stood watching it for ages. It was quite wet standing there and a bit of a challenge taking photographs whilst trying to keep our cameras reasonably dry.

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All the other features were pretty dramatic as well. There was a channel that had huge waves rushing in and this fed into a small steamy blowhole called the chimney. On the other side of the access bridge there was an archway under which huge waves would race into an enclosed bay and crash into the cliff wall opposite. This pool fed into a larger blowhole which didn't spout much more than a slight mist but it did make a sudden booming noise every time water was pushed through. Further round the cliffs the waves were rolling in a crashing on the open cliffs. It was an amazing place and a real reminder of the power of the ocean. Some of the pathways looked pretty precarious and almost certainly will eventually collapse. Once we had finished looking at the spectacle and taking photographs we made our way back to our temporary home from where we had a very late lunch. We spent the rest of the afternoon inside and we finished the evening with a meal cooked by Nigel and then we watched a bit of television.

Posted by Gill's Travels 18:38 Archived in New Zealand Tagged beaches rivers rain_forest new_zealand paparoa

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