Leaving the glacier area of the South Island we continued our journey north up the coast to an attraction called Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. This area has unusual rock formations that look like huge stacks of grayish pancakes. The waves crash into the sides of the rocks exposed to the sea and there are connected pools of water on the interior where the water rises and falls with the wave action. On the exposed top of the formation a footpath leads you throughout the rocks giving wonderful views of the rocks and the water.
We hit the town of Westport after leaving the rocks and wandered through town looking for a bakery for some breakfast. Coming across a music store, I saw a yellow ukulele hanging in the window. I had just recently started playing a uke after going to a Horizons Unlimited meeting in California. A mate from Australia, Eddie, was playing one by his tent and carrying it around on his motorbike as he rode wherever he chose. Anyway, I bought it as I was missing practicing on mine at home.
Further up the coast we knew of a spot which had seals and they had recently had their pups, so off we went to see them. Climbing over some rocks we came within several feet of several with their babies. Not wanting to disturb or upset them we settled in and snapped a few pictures. They were so cute and most were small enough to be still nursing.
We camped for the night at a great campsite near the water with a little green buffer separating us. After taking a nice walk of the beach we came back and cooked supper and settled in to the sound of the waves for the evening.
The next morning, we were meeting with a friend, Klaus, who was also friends of the guy who gave of the GS to ride. He happened to be staying at a house Lindsay had rented for the summer on the northwest section of the island near Motueka. Following him on his little bike was a challenge as he zipped up and down hills and around curves like a champ. Klaus cooked supper for us at the house inviting us to stay in the cottage with him and take a good ride in the morning up over Takaka Hill and around Abel Tasman National Park. Supper turned out great, the wine was excellent. The conversation and camaraderie was interesting as we talked about overland travel and shared stories.
The next morning was perfect weather for a ride and the road didn’t disappoint. Starting out the ride in the small beach town of Kaiteriteri we stopped for a coffee with fantastic views of Kaka Island, Torlese Rock and Tasman Bay. Green trees covered the Island and the blue water and sky made for a beautiful contrast while people played in the water and tall-masted sailing ships floated by. Expensive homes hung off the edges of the hills as the mountain slanted sharply down to the water’s edge.
The road twisted and turned through the forest up to Takaka Hills to an elevation of 791 meters with fantastic views of the valley below. Continuing our ride and playing follow the leader, we crossed over to Upper and East Takaka following the Takaka River back down to the coast where the road ended at Collingwood.
Thanking Klaus and hoping to see him again in Florida next year, we went our separate ways, him back home and us trying to sort out a decent camping spot with view of the beach. We found a great campsite at the Golden Bay Kiwi Holiday Park, right at the water’s edge, looking out on the bay.
It was time to cross over the top of the island and head back south on the eastern coast. We take the road to Nelson and Picton, where the ferry docks to head to the north island. We have been told to take a road about midway there over the mountain with fantastic views coming off the other side of Okiwi Bay and out into Cook Strait, the water between the North and the South Island. The view doesn’t disappoint as we twist and turn coming down to the bay with what appears to be a different view with every turn.
Arriving at the bay we take some pictures before finding a campsite in a grove of trees just steps away from a narrow finger of shallow water that leads to the bay. We cook up some dinner, enjoy a beautiful evening before having a great night sleep.
In the morning, we pack up and head to Picton and then to the coast and to Kaikoura.
We find a cabin for the next couple nights because the next day we will be going out on a boat looking for a day with the Hector (Spinner) dolphins. When we arrive, we find that you can rent wet suits to swim with the dolphins. All the tour groups have the wet suits booked for days, so we opt to just go out on the boat and watch them. Note to self, next time make reservations way in advance.
The day was chilly but with nice blue skies and puffy clouds. The water was cold and the wind gave the South Pacific a bit of a chop. The boat pulled out of the dock and headed out looking for the dolphin. It wasn’t long before one found us, then three and then there were many swimming alongside the boat, jumping the wake, jumping out of the water and spinning for our enjoyment and crisscrossing the bow just having fun.
What an amazing sight as we all crowded to the rails and hustled from side to side enjoying the antics of these small dolphin. When the people in the wetsuits got in the water it looked like they didn’t have as good a view as we had. Seems that being on the boat was for the best after all. I had my motorcycle jacket on while out on the boat and during the excitement my SPOT GPS locator came loose and an Albatross took it for a ride never to be seen again, at least that’s what I tell people happened to it.