On our way to Punakaiki we stopped at some miners memorial.
Then we got to Punakaiki – better known as the Pancake Rocks. We did the loop walk and enjoyed the nice views.
We chilled a bit in the Café there and Nate tried again to organize a delivery for his luggage. At Cape Foulwind we had a Christmas Snack Lunch with dates, Camembert, grapes, crackers, salmon and hummus. We really had a feast on this picnic table! After lunch we did the Cape Foulwind Walk to the light house and back passing a seal colony.
We also built a Christmas sand snowman on the beach before we were heading to Reefton. We went to the Slab Hut Creek DOC campground. There was a still lot of space and we pitched up the tent. Unfortunately we didn´t have our chairs and only one small pot since all of Nate´s gear was in his lost luggage. We borrowed a bigger pot from our tent neighbours and cooked our dinner. It got cold quite quickly and we went to bed rather early. Soon after we went to the tent it started to rain. But not just a little bit, it was raining cats and dogs and didn´t stop all night. At one point in the middle of the night I woke up and wanted to check the time on my phone. When I felt for my bag I realized that it was soaked. Shit! We had quite some water in the tent. I went outside to put everything water sensitive in the car and within a few seconds I was wet to the bone. The whole meadow the tents where on was like 2-3 cm under water. The water in the tent was only on one side – mine, so we just tried to get the stuff out of the water as good as possible and tried to sleep a bit more. I was shivering from the cold, being completely wet and was kind of afraid to be flooded completely or that we swim away so I had a hard time falling asleep. Eventually I was too exhausted though and buried myself completely in my sleeping bag. I even woke up after Nate and when it was light already for about an hour. This is very unusual! The rain had calmed down to a drizzle and even stopped completely every now and then. We tried to dry the tent with some paper towels and I also took my mattress and sleeping bag out and put them in the car for drying. Since everything was wet we only had a super quick breakfast while standing and picked up a tea/coffee at the petrol station in Reefton. Then we went to the Murray Creek Track. This track leads through an old gold mining area. There is not too much left and you don´t see a lot, but it is a nice forest trail and pretty steep, so it is a good workout. It is a loop walk that is supposed to take 5 hours; we had 3.5h including a lunch break about half way. From there we went to Waiuta, a ghost town from the same era. It is quite amazing how quickly nature claims the space back! Some of the houses still stand and in a few of them you can also go inside. It looks like people basically just dropped everything and left – quite spooky.
We walked about 40 minutes through the ghost town and had a short picnic there. Where we had our picnic there was also reception (at out campsite and most of the area was none) and Nate tried again to reach the airline. His bag was supposed to be delivered to the camp ground that day at around five. We went back to Reefton to fill up the car and get some water. Nate finally managed to reach someone jut to learn that they had been at the campground at three and since nobody was there left again – with the bag of course. So we still missed part of our camp gear. Nate had only bought a mattress and sleeping bag and a plate at the warehouse since the bag was supposed to arrive originally even before we left Hokitika. At least he could arrange that they would bring it to the hostel where we would stay the night after in Murchison. We went back to the campground, enjoyed a beer while I was writing my journal, had dinner and sat outside for a while until it started to drizzle again. Since the day had been pretty nice, sunny and warm, the tent, my mattress and sleeping bag where dry again. It got very cold that night and my sleeping bag reached its limit. We got up quite early since we were both cold. After breakfast we did the dishes and packed up and where on the road again. After about one hour we reached the Buller Gorge. They charge $10 to walk over the bridge and $30 for the zip line they call Comet line. You can also do superman, but this is $60 each. We got a discount and payed $60 together for walking over the bridge and taking the tandem zip line back. The Buller Gorge Bridge is New Zealand´s longest swing bridge with 110 meters. We crossed and did the Ariki Falls Walk (1h return) before zip lining back. It was fun!
We got our supplies from the car and had lunch just next the bridge. We drove to Murchison where we checked into the Lazy Cow and finally received Nate´s lost luggage. The Lazy Cow is a super cute hostel. We had two beds in a six bed dorm. The common room and the kitchen are super cozy, the beds comfortable and everything is decorated with cows.
We took a shower, did some laundry and other administrative stuff and later went for dinner to the attached restaurant – the Cow Shed.
We made a fire in the fire place of the living room and played Scrabble while enjoying a beer. It was nice to sleep in a warm bed again after the two cold and wet nights on the campground. Of course this night was dry! After breakfast the next day we checked out and walked around the cute little town. There are quite a lot of vintage stores and other cute shops, a tiny museum and some art and handiwork shops. Nate got some nice Maori carving for his living room.
We got pies at the mobile pie shop of the Tutaki Bakery. They had really interesting flavors, not just the usual ones. I got stung by a bumble bee there. For desert we went to a French bakery and then we left Murchison. We stopped at Lake Rotarara. It is beautiful there, but loads of sand flies, bumble bees and other insects. We wanted to chill a bit there, but you couldn´t lie down without being in a cloud of insects. Another bumble bee stung me. I don´t know what was wrong that day, usually bumble bees are not aggressive at all and I didn´t do anything to them.
I walked around a bit while Nate stayed at the lake then we finally took off in the direction of the Able Tasman National Park.