Punakaiki: The Enchanting West Coast

There are so many cool rocks scattered off the west coast of the South Island that as you drive past them you can’t help imagining them as shapes and creatures. I definitely see a bunny and a thumbs up in this cluster…anyone else?img_4955Then, there was a random cow in the road that ran along in front of us before deciding to take this left turn. img_4963 Every time we arrive at a new site, Xander insists upon helping Kris to get us plugged in and properly organized. He goes ballistic if Kris tries to do it without him. img_4969img_4981We made it to our campsite in Punakaiki just in time to take a walk along the beach and watch the sun set on the Tasman Sea. img_4982img_5000img_5010img_5012img_5020img_5030img_5031We planned on walking over to the pancake rocks the following morning at high tide since that’s the best time to see the blowholes in action. Xander had other ideas about the schedule, so we didn’t make it until closer to low tide. The blow holes weren’t going off, but the intricately layered rocks were an incredible sight. img_5042img_5046img_5052img_5058Yes, that’s me in the image below. Proof for my dermatoligist that I’m sporting appropriate vampire wear when in the sun. img_5062The layers of rock are mesmerizing. img_5067img_5072img_5075What shapes and animals do you see in the image above? I love this sign illustrating some of the legends that are tied to the rocks. img_5077img_5081On our walk back from the pancake rocks (after stopping at the cafe across the street for some pancakes), we had planned to explore a cave, but when we got there decided it wasn’t very Kris or baby backpack friendly, so we skipped it. img_5094img_5100img_5102That evening, we walked the beach again, but this time put Xander down to play. My initial instinct was not to let him. What if he got dirty? Or tried to eat the rocks? Or fell down? I had to stop myself and remember that he needs to be allowed to explore. It’s his job to get dirty, try to eat rocks, and fall on his butt.img_5118He was absolutely fascinated by the feel of the sand on his fingers. img_5121img_5125img_5143Here he is as a baby sea turtle that has hatched and is returning to the sea…img_5147His unselfconscious, irrepressible joy was contagious. img_5160img_5161img_5170img_5174The image above is Kris and Xander trying to find ideal rocks for skipping on the stream that was flowing out to sea. Let it be known that under Kris’s patient tutelage, I successfully skipped a rock for the very first time in my life. I feel that this alone made the trip to New Zealand worthwhile. img_5183The sunset that evening looked like something from the Lion King. img_5189img_5203Xander was ecstatic when he managed to reach into the water and pull a rock of his own out. He was fucking indignant when we took it away from him so he wouldn’t try to eat it, but we did keep it for him as promised. img_5207img_5211We spent another day relaxing and going for walks, letting Xander crawl and play on the beach, but I left the camera in the campervan so that we could all just be present in the moment. Sometimes it’s best to experience moments without seeing them through the camera.

We stopped back by the pancake rocks our last morning there to catch the high tide, and were so glad we did. Definitely go at high tide if you can! The blowholes are incredible! The first one you come across is called Surprise Sound and it looks exactly like the lair of a sleeping dragon that is snorting in a rage. You don’t see the waves that cause it, so it seems to just blow out of nowhere. Xander was a little freaked out by that one, but he loved watching this one called the Chimney Pot…

Each one had its own marvelous personality, and the crashing waves were hypnotic.

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