Friday, August 22, 2014

Whiting Christmas: Part 6 - Hokitika, Sunsets and Bon Voyage

Time for the final installment from our Christmas vacation.  We traveled down the west coast after pancake rocks and spent Christmas night in Hokitika.  They had a great Christmas day feast at the hotel we were staying at, a giant fancy buffet of turkey, fish, roast, and all the trimmings.  It was delicious and a nice way to spend the evening.

The sun started to depart and the sky started changing colors.  This was the view from our balcony.

Down towards the beach they had constructed a large stone levee along the beach to help break the ocean waves and protect the town.

There were a few other beach combers enjoying the view as well.   Driftwood covered a lot of the sand.

One last selfie for the trip.  Vacation's almost over...

Looking back at the hotel, the sky was changing in all directions.

The waves were still strong.  The sounds of the ocean and the steady wind made it a nice night.

The colors had just about faded and we thought it was about over, but we were wrong...

The beach was at a shallow angle so the water would spread over a large area before retreating to the sea.

Another short video to show you what the night was like...

The sun was long gone, but the reds and pinks started to pop into the sky...

Such a perfect, peaceful night...

Not much else to say...

Another one...

And another one...

Just about done now, the sand starting to look black...

We were spending all our time looking up... glancing down was like a river bed with smoothed stones deposited all along in the sand...

One last view...  Drift wood all down the beach, and a few stragglers still enjoying the sunset.  It was a pretty awesome night, and the last one of our week long journey around the island.

All that was left was the long journey home.  We straddled the west coast with Southern Alps just inland to us.  This was a picture before we went through Hasst Pass, one of only three passes that goes through the mountains.

We didn't take many pictures in the mountains that day, because we had a 9 hour drive to get back home to start work the next day.  But we did get this one as we came out the other side approaching Wanaka.  It was such a great trip.  Thanks for following along!  Cole has recently just taken several trips up to the Haast Pass region and was out on the glaciers.  Rebecca and I will be heading up there next weekend actually, so you will see what it is like through there soon enough!

It was great trip, over too quick...  Next up on the "catch up blogging" the adventures with our Moms and my brother who traveled down in our Fall.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Whiting Christmas: Part 5 - Pancake Rocks

We enjoyed two or three days around Nelson before heading back South down the west coast.  We did spend a little time downtown before we went.

Christ Church downtown had pretty nice grounds and their decorations up.

Found Cole's next birthday present!  Sshhh, don't tell him...  :)

A few hours drive and we were on the coast again.  This is near Punakaiki north of Greymouth. This was our first exposure to the strong waves off the Tasman Sea, other than very briefly in Doubtful Sound.  The wind stream comes from the west battering this coast with waves.

Much stronger waves than we typically see off the southern shore...

The weather reminded us of Southland though.  We were hit by a lot of rain and wind on and off that day.  Luckily it serves to keep things green and the flowers blooming here as well.

The birds were enjoying the rocks, but I wouldn't want to be out there!

Long drive for the day finally over, we arrived at the Pancake Rocks!

I don't know how they formed, but the rocks eroded into these nice stacked "pancake" formations.

The rocks were situated right on the coast, and the walking paths were up on the cliffs giving us a little elevation above the water.  There were eroded rock walls out in the sea a little off the coast.  Sooner or later the whole area will probably look like this...

We were mostly looking at the rock formations, but when we looked inland we could really see what all the rain has been nourishing.  A few more palm trees up north.

Lots of cool formations.  Large striated stacks of "pancakes."

In the distance, large eroded structures.  They look like they are just barely supporting their own weight.

Rough seas.  Steady drum beat of waves.  A surfers dream.

In the middle of the park was this large open pool that communicated with the sea.  Strong waves were able to crash into the area.  We were over to Pip and Sid's house last night for dinner and they told us an interesting story about this area.  Those of you lucky enough to have met them know that Sid used to be an undercover police officer in this part of the country years ago.  He actually was involved with a helicopter rescue of someone who fell into this pool.  "Please don't cross the barrier!"

I posted a clip on YouTube.  You can see why you wouldn't want to fall in.

The other side of the pool had a cool little outlet to the ocean with a nice bridge over it.

The water churned away below, and every once and a while the timing would be just right and a large wave would rush all the way down the trench.

These big waves led to another natural phenomenon.  You can see the small cave in the bottom of the picture.  When a big wave came, it rushed into the cave and was forced upward through a shaft and out a blowhole.  You can see the tiny exit chimney of the the blowhole on the upper left.

It took forever, but I got a picture of the eruption!

The formations reminded me of ancient fossils, like a large dinosaur's rib bones sticking out of the ground. 

More deep pools.  We almost couldn't see down into this one.  Every once and a while a wave would burst up from beneath and form small streams down the rock walls.

More staggered formations...

Out to sea, the waves made temporary pools and waterfalls in the rocks.

Another doomed spire in the surf.  Can't last much longer.

A gloomy day but very beautiful in its own way.

The flax was still red, but already turning.  Too cold on the coast I guess.

Next stop, one last amazing sunset and then back to work!