We left Nelson fairly early this morning. It was a bit later than we had planned because we started to watch the men’s downhill race. Alas, no Canadian medals in that event.

From there, we headed south along route 6 towards Westport. We continued on to see the Pancake Rocks. The tide was at its highest point, but because the day was fine the sea didn’t have the needed swells to be able to see the blowholes.

Pancake Rocks, Punakaiki, New Zealand

The area leading to the coast is full of flax and reminded me a bit of the desert road in the north. In some ways it’s even more isolated because for the most part the mountains come down right to the sea. The west coast is the wilder, rougher coast, and you can see why even if there was land for settlers, people wouldn’t have chosen to live that close to the sea.

After the pancake rocks we set off into virgin kiwi territory for us. It started when we crossed the bridge (a new one!) leading into Greymouth. From there it was all new scenery to Hanmer Springs. We made one spontaneous stop along the way to see some awesome falls.

Hanmer Springs is a bit like Banff. It has thermal baths, a spa and a small village feel with lots of old trees, a ski hill nearby and lots of hiking. That’s our goal tomorrow: to hike to the waterfalls, have lunch then find another hike. We’re at the Bella Vista, and its owner recommended not going to the baths until after 7:00 p.m. to avoid the buses that arrive for the day and the school-aged children who have swimming lessons after school.

For supper, we visited the Monteith’s Brewery Bar. We were served by a Belgian and a Canadian, just like Banff – most of the servers are from away.