A Little Bit of Catching Up

Well, now, a little bit of catching up to do! There was this earthquake just after midnight on the 14th of November 2016. Asleep in bed, at first I thought someone was shaking the bed to wake up. But it kept on going and now wide awake I remember thinking, this could be serious.

I swung out of bed and started to walk towards the door but it was quite hard to do so. The bedroom door was swinging, the blinds rattling and then there was a crash of something falling in the lounge. I put out my hand against to wall and waited until all was still. After checking that all seemed to be okay I went back to bed. It was the largest and longest earthquake that I have experienced but it was worse over at Kaikoura and along State Highway 0ne. A number of buildings in Wellington were damaged too with a number having to be demolished.

Mid December I joined Karla in heading off to Greymouth to meet Derilyn, a visitor from London. Derilyn had planned to visit Kaikoura and the whales but the earthquake made for a change of plan. Instead she hopped on the Trans Alpine railcar from Christchurch to travel to Arthurs Pass, under the Southern Alps and on to Greymouth. Karla and I had stopped for a look at the old Brunner mine workings near Greymouth, crossing the rail line to do so. I had said to Karla that the railcar might pass soon and sure enough it did. As it passed, by chance we spotted Derilyn in one of the carriages. After meeting up in Greymouth we headed for Punakaiki and we had enough time to walk around the pancake rocks before the rain set in. Accommodation for me was in a bunk room with four others. All young chaps with gear scattered all over the bunks and I had to clear a way on the floor to get to my bunk. I did managed to get a grunt from one as a greeting. Some mothers do ‘ave ‘em? I sneaked out early the next morning before anyone stirred – and I hope I snored like hell during the night!

Birds nesting: Cape Foulwind.

Birds nesting: Cape Foulwind.

It rained through the night, heavy at times too so I hoped it wouldn’t affect our drive up the coast to Charleston. At Charleston and down the side road to visit the ‘harbour’ entrance (Constant Bay) in a light drizzle. I like calling in to see this spot and always wonder at the seamanship of the sailing boats that came through that very narrow gap in a sea that I’ve never seen calm. Gold enticed them, and three shipwrecks have been found around the entrance, thought to be from the gold-rush days around 1867. There is evidence of 99 hotels in Charleston and after the gold run out and maybe the beer, coal was the earner. The new cafe was all set out for tours to view glow worms, under ground rafting and caving but we just had lunch there.


Cape Foulwind.

We next headed north to Tauranga Bay near Cape Foulwind to visit the seal colony. We parked in our allotted spot for cars only. Mustn’t park in the campervan or bus places. Heavens, maybe it’s all the tourists numbers that started the earthquake? Walking along the track to the colony one knew it was the right track by the smell of the seals! We watched a couple of fights by the large males defending their territory and spotted some bird nesting colonies atop of rock formations out in the sea.

Our accommodation for the next couple of days was an old hotel in Westport. It was Hobson’s Choice but it was okay. The shower had two settings; a maximum dribble or a dismal dribble and the plughole in the basin in my room had the little grill missing. That was okay too but one had to mind not dropping any false teeth or such in the basin or one would likely see something grinning up from the ground floor through the downpipe.


Denniston Plateau.

The next day we went up to Denniston and wandered around the old coal mining workings. Some parts had been restored and that is really good but much of the old mining gear and such was just rusting away and that is not good. My step-grandfather worked in these mines and I think the men from Cumberland worked in the mine at Burnett’s Face. I know my step-grandfather became ill at some stage but he did buy a section in Runanga, near Greymouth. Just which school that my father attended we do not know. Apparently, a lot of the school records were flood damaged and then destroyed.


Homeward bound: Hawks Crag.

Homeward bound through the Buller Gorge and driving under the overhang at Hawks Crag, which is always worth a stop to look back on. We called in at Lyell, an old goldmining town but all gone along with the gold I guess but it is the start of the newish The Old Ghost Road, an 85km tramping or bike trail. We walked a little way along the track, faster than the sandflies could keep up and then continued on our way home.

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