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Day 20 – Kaikoura to Greymouth

November 4, 2012

Before we bedded down last evening we skyped with Martin and Sephi (our gorgeous and chatty granddaughter). It had been 2 weeks since we had last chatted on line. It was great to see them – Sephi had so much to tell us and was proudly showing us the postcards we had sent her. She also took photo’s of us on her dad’s iphone – she is so IT savvy! Martin and I tried to hold a conversation but there was little we could do to make ourselves understood with Sephi and Brenda in full flow!!

Well the wind and rain had subsided during the night and we woke to  beautiful blue sky day. We had wondered what the backdrop to Kaikoura looked like as it was enveloped in heavy cloud on our arrival and throughout the day. Well we were stunned when we emerged from the camper-van and saw the view opposite – we had no idea that this is what was covered in the clouds! The air was crisp but the sun was helping to warm us up.

The first leg of our journey was to take us to Hanmer Springs along state highway 70. What a fabulous route to follow. We had views like the picture opposite on our right hand side whilst on the left hand it was totally green but as spectacular.

We arrived in Hanmer Springs which is a thermal resort and made for the hot pools to indulged ourselves in the hot springs. The thermal pools have been in existence for over 100yrs – Maori’s call the springs Waitapu (Sacred Waters). It was lovely to relax in the warm waters with the air temperature at around 14c and the sun shining. The hot spring water mixes with fresh water to produce pools or varying temperatures. I remarked to Brenda that it is like relaxing in a bath but with water staying at the same temperature and not cooling down.

After a lovely healthy lunch, well it was for me, we set off on our next leg of the journey which would eventually take us to Greymouth. We had no idea what to expect as we were traveling over and through Lewis Pass. The only way to get to the west coast from Hanmer Springs is either across Arthurs Pass of the Lewis Pass. We chose the Lewis Pass as it was a much shorter route for us to take.

The Lewis Pass is at the southern end of the Southern Alps and ‘snakes’ west from Hanmer Springs to Mauria Springs and Springs Junction. Our guide book informed us that the Lewis Pass is not as dense or steep as Arthurs Pass but we found it to be spectacular as we first climbed slowly up to the summit following the river which was slowly disappearing below us then driving downhill for around 30km. We took a quick refreshments break at Springs Junction before embarking on the final leg of todays journey.

We have had to contend with lots of different things as we have been on our journey – trying to take in the stunning views, coping with very little traffic on the road (lol), sometimes driving in some extreme weather conditions e.g. rain and wind, steep and winding roads.

However, today was different, we were held up by cattle being moved from one field to another. It was fun watching the stockmen on their quad bikes assisted by about four dogs trying to keep the cattle moving. It took us around 10mins to get through this lot.

We arrived in Greymouth which is the west coasts largest town with a population of circa 10,000. For whatever reason it is known as the ‘Big Smoke’ and has a proud gold-minng history. We thought about ‘panning’ in the river but decided to give that a miss.

The holiday park we are staying at sits right on the edge of the shoreline and we have great views, and sounds of the crashing waves, of the Tasman Sea. It reminds us very much of the north-east coast we were brought up in.

The sea was rather grey and angry and the beach is made up of either shale or pebbles. We did take a walk along it and though it was a little blustery it was nice to be out in the fresh air and rather invigorating. We should sleep well tonight!!

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