The ride from Franz Joseph to Hokitika was beautiful, hilly and long. We also didn’t realize how popular Hokitika is as a tourist destination and all the campground cabins and motels were full. After using an I-site(the NZ tourist information places) to help us find a room at a backpacker’s lodge about 5 km north of town, we walked across the street to the local fish and chips shop and devoured a Blue Cod fish and chips – hot, greasy and delicious. This was just the fuel we needed to cycle to the store for dinner supplies and on to the Bird’s Nest Backpackers lodge which, by the way, was comfortable until all the young, inexperienced cookers started stir-frying and smoking up the place. Eric and I escaped by getting to bed early.
The following morning we set off early. Eric found a side road that wound through Safford and connected to the West Coast Wilderness Trail just north Kumara, a relatively new cycle track with sunning views. A highlight was stopping at the Theater Tavern in Kumara for a coffee before continuing on to Greymouth.
We stayed two nights in Greymouth for bike repairs – new bearings for my back hub (again) – which has to be ordered. We used the extra night to enjoy a movie (Fast and Furious 7 which was horrible) and a glass of wine (which was delicious) at the local cinema. (I love getting wine with my movie!)
Greymouth to Punakaiki was start of some of the most spectacular coastal scenery to date. The owner of the Greymouth bike shop called it “iconic – among the world’s top ten coastal drives” and I have to agree. It was breath-taking. We checked into the Punakaiki Beach camp, left our bicycles, and walked along the beach back to Pancake Rocks National Park. The walk is dotted with amazing geological formations and, because the tide was rolling in, we got to see a few blow holes spout their ocean spray.
If possible the ride from Punakaiki to Westport or at least as far as Charleston was ever more beautiful than the day before. Maybe it was the man selling espressos from the back of his fishing truck about 20 km north of Punakaiki or the “best pizza in NZ” at Jack’s Pizzeria about 35 km north of Punakaiki at an isolated campground on the Waitakere Nile River, but between the amazing scenery and the great food and beverages, this was a great day. The final 30 km to Westport were not as stunning but still pleasant rolling hills and farm lands. We stayed at the Kiwi Holiday Park in Westport and enjoyed our little A-Frame cabin.