Monday 30 March 2015

Westport’s Wonderful Weather

Well, it was for four of the five days we stayed, the other day it was torrential rain which we were very grateful for; our vehicles needed a good wash down, they still had a salt covering from the storm that blew through when we were at Ward Beach three weeks ago. And with no water available at the NZMCA Park it was great to be able to put our collection containers out at the end of the awning and fill the water tank and our spare carry containers. This saved David at least one trip into town to fill them at the Countdown potable water tap (which is near the dump station which we couldn’t use as it was tucked into a corner).

Here’s a few more photos from our time in Westport-

In amongst the dunes beside the NZMCA Park is a freedom camping area that had at least 6-10 vehicles parked up every night; mostly hire motorhomes & sleeper vans. There’s not too many places in New Zealand where you’d be able to park overnight right on the beach like this, some visitors from overseas might think they’ve died and gone to heaven when they pull up on such a beautiful beach.

Westport’s  NZMCA North Beach Park from the beach. The tepee, I think, is courtesy of the Kiwi Experience Bus passengers; they come here for a sunset bonfire & drinks.

I took these photos especially for our friend Bluey, to show him what a good dog does when a pesky weka comes a calling. This little pooch must have a whole heap of willpower, either that or she’s too scared to move. Bluey, she is a looker, you could be in with a chance if you ever meet & can show her some restraint. When it comes to weka.

At the south end of the beach is the Buller River breakwater and the Westport Bar, a wild section of water that has claimed many lives and boats over the years. I missed getting a photo of a fishing trawler exiting the mouth as we arrived, there was a large swell and huge waves were rolling in. The boat rode over the top of them, crashing down the other side with sea spray flying in all directions. It made me feel sea-sick just looking at it. Later a very small and cute older fishing boat came up the channel, I was hoping to see it cross over so I could get some photos but it spent about half an hour going round and round in circles fishing for live bait and by the time we left it was still weaving about and the swell had subsided.

We’ve now been to the source of the Buller on Lake Rotoiti at the Nelson Lakes and to the mouth of the Buller here in Westport.

Before the tide turned and the waves settled there were a large number of surfers riding the waves on the north side of the breakwater. There was a lot of white water but a few good sized waves too. I even managed to catch a fish enjoying a wave (top right-it looks like a kahawai).

This little house was just down the road from the Park, it looks to have been part of the racecourse at some stage. A little harsh perhaps, but it’s aptly named ‘The Box’. Cute!

We visited Cape Foulwind, just south of Westport, where there’s a 2km coastal walkway between the lighthouse at the Cape and Tauranga Bay further south, where there’s a seal colony. Nearby are the Gibsons Beach sea stacks, there used to be a huge single stack further out called Giant’s Tooth but it crashed into the sea after an earthquake early last century.

We didn’t walk the track, there was a cool breeze blowing, it was getting late & we didn’t fancy retracing our steps to get back to the car afterwards. Instead we drove to the other end, to the carpark at Tauranga Bay and walked up to the seal colony.

It’s just a short walk to the lookout over the colony where a steady stream of visitors were hoping to catch sight of the seals. The last time I visited here, many years ago, there were hundreds of seals spread out over the rocks below but unfortunately today there were only a handful of pups playing in a pool while their mothers are away feeding at sea.

And if you didn’t have binoculars (like most of the visitors), or a camera with a good zoom, you would have been hard pressed to see them. This colony has nothing like the huge numbers of seals that are in the Kaikoura coast colonies.

We drove around Tauranga Bay and over to Nine Mile Beach which is a beautiful long isolated sandy beach backed by large dunes covered in marram grass. Today there was just the solitary figures of a horse & sulky rider working out before the rain arrived.

There was one last chore to do before we headed north towards Karamea. With only two public dump stations in Westport and both of them in the parking area of a supermarket we had to use New World who had the best access. Although they had no potable water so then it was across to Countdown for that.

Who in their right mind would team up a dump station with a supermarket? Not only is it a weird combination but also there's the tight maneuvering for bigger rigs inside the car park- especially on a Saturday morning.  I guess the supermarket came up with the idea, hoping we’d buy our groceries there while we dumped (and we did). In one door, out the other!

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