Sunday, January 24, 2010


We left the Hapuku Lodge for the west coast of the South Island.  It was raining hard when we left Kaikoura, and as we drove into the hills it began to pour.  We were listening to Black to Comm's album, Alphabet 1968, and it made for a eerie drive through gray hills and shadowy woodlands between Kaikoura and Lewis Pass.  Here is a video of theirs to put you in the mood:

After listening to an hour of this we were dreaming up dark scenarios where the hundreds of wet sheep we were passing all suddenly stood up on their hind legs and slowly turned toward us to stare in unison.  

Just as we changed the music to something cheerier, the rain let up and we drove into the Victoria Forest National Park.

We came upon the Mauria Springs Thermal Resort just in time, and pulled over to take a dip in their very hot natural springs... to wash away the darkness.

The Japanese style baths were just what we needed mid-drive, and after soaking for 30 minutes, we continued on our way toward the coast.

Here is the Buller Gorge, where things started to get really dramatic just a few minutes away from the ocean.

Outside the town of Westport we stopped for lunch at the Bay House Cafe on Cape Foulwind.  Despite the name, given by Captain Cook, the weather finally broke and the sun came out momentarily.

We were able to sit outside and enjoy the cafe's view and beautiful subtropical garden.

South of Westport the fog rolled in and hid the sun again.  This didn't keep the drive from being one of the most dramatic I have ever experienced.  By the time we made it to the boarders of Paparoa National Park, we were speechless: rugged cliffs, seemingly tropical rain forest, black sand beaches, 100 foot waterfalls, bright orange flowers.  It looked like something Dr. Seuss would dream up for a children's book.
Here are the pancake rocks of Dolomite Point in the national park.  Awesome.

After the drama of the Paparoa region, the broad plains and wide driftwood strewn beach of Hokitika, our stop for the night, seemed quaint.

Hokitika was a mining boom town, and maintains an end-of-the-earth feeling of isolation and eccentricity.

The bizarre but pretty town library.

Perhaps the weirdest thing in all of Hokitika was the cuisine.  I listened to the accounts of several guide books and magazine articles and tried the famous whitebait pizza.  Whitebait is the immature version of the local river smelt.  That is right: fish with cheese pizza.  I wanted to like it, I really did... but it was everything you imagine when you think of baby fish and mozzarella together.  Avoid it at all cost.  ALL cost.


  1. The hot spring looks SO SOOTHING! The rocks are out of this world, and so's that video. Love it! When I make it to that end of the Earth, I will definitely avoid the whitebait pizza!

  2. Chad! I just absorbed all your travel pics. So many of these landscapes are as if N. California merged with Hawaii! Except for the libraries housed in morgues. Amazing.

    (Btw, I second your Chinese friend's kernel of wisdom)