The sun rose on some very tired and sore campers that day! Feeling in need of a sustaining start to the day, we drove back to Motueka and had breakfast at The Red Beret Café. I opted for pancakes with grilled banana, boysenberries, cream and maple syrup. So bad but so gooood!
This was the day we'd factored in our big drive down the west coast, since our legs would need a rest and thankfully, we weren't missing any special weather. It was, however, perfect conditions for a visit to Punakaiki, the location of the Pancake Rocks. As it was raining and windy, the sea was crashing against the cliffs along the coast and we knew we were in for a really spectacular visit.
As we parked up, we were greeted by this little guy, a weka hoping to find visitors in a generous mood and maybe get a few crumbs of something.
"The Pancake Rocks that Punakaiki is famous for, are limestone formations that began forming 30 million years ago, when lime-rich fragments of dead marine creatures were deposited on the seabed, then overlaid by weaker layers of soft mud and clay.
The seabed was raised above sealevel by earthquakes to form the coastal cliffs and coastline. The sea, wind and rain have since etched out the soft layers to form the unusual rock formations we see today.
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."
And it truly was awe-inspiring! We especially enjoyed 'the chimney' ( a blowhole in the rocks which spouts water when the sea fills the cavern underneath it, resembling a smoking chimney). A young girl crossing the bridge across from it was unfortunate enough to be caught in its spray, to our great amusement.
After lunch and a hot chocolate to warm our cockles, we were back on the road, heading for Franz Josef. Upon arriving, we found a very nice looking campsite called the Rainforest Retreat with its own hot pool, sauna and restaurant. We used the facilities to send a couple of messages home before having a very scrumptious meal in the restaurant and drinking more 'ale'.