Saturday, December 1, 2007

Pancake Rocks and Glowworm


The west coast of the South Island is one of the least populated parts of NZ. Initially, we weren't sure what we should do on the drive north from the glaciers, but we got a great recommendation from the folks in Christchurch to stop in at the megalopolis of Punakaiki. Although our map would indicate this was a samll town by the font size, it's really just a DOC visitor's center, two cafes, and some accomodations.

Though the town is tiny, it makes up for its size with all of the fantastic hiking and scenery nearby. Our first hike was to Fox Caves and it had to be one of our favorites. Although it didn't start out at all challenging (the 2 river crossings we were warned about were basically dry), it got progressively harder as we neared the cave. After sliding around on moss-covered rocks for 20 minutes, we came to a warning sign for slippery rocks. If you're Dennis, this would put you into a giggling/cursing/ hysterical state, but the sign bore out. The last ascent to the cave is over large, wet, moss covered boulders. Pretty treacherous, but exploring the huge cave was a great reward for the efforts.

We then checked out the pancake rocks along the shore of Punakaiki. The rocks are still one of nature's mysteries according to the signs, plus they're pretty.

Although we didn't wait till dark for our next caving experience as advised, we also explored Punakaiki Cavern, turned off our headlamps, waited in the pich black towards the back of the cave, and saw a glowworm. We'd seen dozens of glowworm caving tours since we've been in NZ, and this was the only cavern so far that was free. In retrospect, this was probably because it contains one dodgy glowworm, but we were still really excited to see him/her/it!

-K

1 comment:

gabe said...

So, I've worked my way through your journey, except for about the last 700 pictures of New Zealand. I was thinking of establishing a "point-counterpoint" feature. The basic idea would be, you would post another picture of a paradaisiacal fairyland trek with rainbows and ewoks and I would counter with a picture of Chicago, though selecting the perfect photo to capture the moment would take some skill. Today for example I'd be hard pressed to choose between the unutterably grey sky and the decomposing pumpkin on the porch capped with snow slowly melting in the drizzle. However, I don't see an incredibly easy way to do that, so instead I'll just say a bitter howdy.