Northern Westland

They say that the journey is more important than the destination, and how true that is.  We have never been ones to get from A to B in the quickest or shorted time, in fact we seem to go from A to B via Aa, Ab, Ac..you get the drift?  We try to meander our way along  discovering the byways and all those wee places that most people go whizzing by.  Even so, we have missed a number of places and they are now on our “next time” list with a promise to ourselves to take the time now and have less on that list.

We left Slab Hut Creek on Tuesday morning(6 March), stopping off in Reefton to catch up on emails and phone calls before heading off toward Westport.  An uneventful but interesting drive through some lovely country, with the most spectacular through the Buller Gorge.

riverBuller River

Some of the corners narrow to single lane but are controlled by traffic lights like this one:-

buller lights

Whereas others just tell you to slow down, as if we weren’t already!

corner

Then you see signs like this:-

dancing trucksdoes this mean trucks are dancing around the corner?

buller gorgeand sneaking through under the crag.

Westport was always going to be a brief stopping point in which we could fill up with petrol, empty the waste tanks, fill with fresh water and restock the pantry.  That done, we headed off toward a POP north of Stockton, however, we missed the turn off (GPS coordinates were wrong) so ended up continuing on to Mokihinui.  Where, for the first time since last September, we went to a Camp ground.  Well, it is called a camp ground, more like a large field with an ablution block and a few power points. 

mokihinui

We did not need power so parked up and proceeded to settle in.  Roy hopped over the dunes to the river entrance to try for a Kahawai or Salmon (no luck).

7 March

Wednesday morning and off to use the showers, it felt quite wicked to leave the water running the whole time we showered  as we are so used to the ‘navy shower’ technique. However, it was rather nice and we wont knock it.  We also took the opportunity to use the kitchen facilities to wash our dishes so less water going into the waste tanks.  That all done, we headed off toward Karamea.

Now if any of you have driven over the hill to Karamea will know what the road is like, now imagine driving over it in a 10m bus towing a car and you will appreciate the skill required by the driver.

sign 

Some corners were a little tight and with the passenger looking down over the side of sheer drops, it is surprising clean underpants were not required by the journeys end!  Meanwhile, the vertigo suffering driver kept his eyes glued to the road whilst taking deep breaths.

We took a tea break in Karamea before deciding to continue on to Kohaihai, the very end of the northern end of the West Coast road and the start/end of the Heaphy Track. 

coastThat’s our destination up ahead in the sea mist.

narrowingBut first we need to go along this road which was already a one lane road, now its narrowing to what, a half lane road?

kohaihaiHere at last, Kohaihai.

So here we are just a few metres from the sand and the ocean and will stay here a few days and explore the region, more specifically the Oparara Limestone Caves. 

parkParking spot.

Mind you, the sandflies here are large, voracious and in huge numbers so we will see how we go.

estuaryEstuary looking down to the sea

Nikaua huge example of a Nikau Palm

bridge heaphySwing bridge at the start of the Heaphy Track

downstreamLooking downstream form the bridge

totemand this fellow looking over the beach.

We have now covered the length of the West Coast accessible by road, from Jackson’s Bay in the south  through to Kohaihai in the north, with a few stops in between.  A beautiful part of NZ which we look forward to returning to again soon,

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