Sunday, 20 November 2016

West Coast Progress Report


Here's another quick blog to let you know of our progress down the West Coast. I'm starting to get that anxious feeling when I know I'm getting behind in my latest blogs and I still have a few too many past ones to catch up on. The problem at the moment is we're on the move every second or third day and 'Out There' doing things in between. But bear with me, I have some really great blogs waiting in the wings and I will get to them, it might just take a little time.

Whataroa Main Street
After sitting out the rain and stormy weather in Hokitika for several days, a window of opportunity opened in the weather forecast for a couple of fine days, so we quickly packed up and headed south to Whataroa where we parked behind the local pub in their well equipped camping ground. Not. At least there was power ($35 a night, $25 without) but I wondered at any maintenance; we wanted to plug in for a day or two to boost the van and give the solar and everything else a rest, it's been a few weeks since our last charge.

We were the only ones there the first night- the other 5th-wheeler belonged to 'the boss'. With the pub the only available site for camping in the area there were assortment of people staying the next night in sleeper vans, tents and motorhomes. I felt sorry for those that weren't self-contained as the sub-standard 'facilities' were at the back of the pub, a good walk away and locked up after dark.

Talk about the wild west, this was as rough as they come. The owner has a finger in many pies. But, what is that saying? Jack of all trades, master of none...

The only redeeming feature was the awesome sighting of a NZ Falcon/Kārearea...

...who sat atop the hiab on this truck looking a little perplexed as he tried to work out how to extract the starling chicks from the nests inside the arm.

As bad-luck would have it, the next day 'the boss' decided to have the arm repaired and the two starling nests and chicks that were inside the arm went for half a dozen 'octopus' side-show rides of their short life. 

Unbelievably, the nests survived although one chick did fall out (too young to survive) and the parents had to find a new backdoor as the nests slipped down the hollow inside the arm. I couldn't bear to look the next day, when 'the boss' arrived to show someone how the repairs went, swinging the arm up and around a few times. And yet they were still chirping away the next time I walked past. Thank God I'm not there if & when they come to drive the truck away...

The resident Paradise Duck pair had an unusual vantage point to survey their patch...

And the reason we were in Whataroa was, of course, to visit the White Heron/Kotuku sanctuary in Waitangiroto Nature Reserve, the only place in New Zealand where they breed. We'd been waiting for the weather to clear and we picked the right day.

The reserve is a 14km van ride and a 20 minute jet boat sprint away from Whataroa township. We had a fantastic visit, one of the best activities and most enjoyable we've done on our journey- there will be a blog coming soon.

With the Kotuku Sanctuary finally done and dusted (we've had it on our 'must do, can't wait' list since we hit the road) we carried on south to Okarito, a place we thoroughly enjoyed on a day visit back in winter when we passed through. This time we bought our home with us and stayed at the campground for a couple of nights... we could do some bird-watching. Can you see the tiny fluffy bumble-bee sized banded-dotterel chick?

And walk the Okarito Three Mile Pack Track & Coastal Walk, along the rocky beach (it can only be walked one hour either side of low tide)... the bridge to nowhere at 3 Mile Lagoon...

...and then return via the Pack Track over the Kohuamarua Bluff, a walk that in the end turned into an epic 12km hike because we couldn't not walk (well one of us couldn't, the other could have passed on it) up the 1.8km side track to the trig lookout, on our way home.

Okarito Lagoon & township
And now we are back at the lovely Franz Josef NZMCA Park where we sat out the rain during our winter visit. And guess what? It's just started raining again.


  1. Heading down this way in mid-January with our caravan on the way to Clyde.
    The change in our usual route necessitated by a 'few' slips!!
    Have been warned away from the Lewis by a friend who came
    through the other day and reckoned at $5 a truck they could have had a
    rather nice weekend away!
    Have only just found your blog, and am loving it.

    1. Thankyou very much for your lovely words and I'm glad you're enjoying the blog. I hope you have a few beers/wines/coffee handy, you'll need them to get you through 4 years worth of blogs! There's lots of hidden gems in here if you have the time to research, I assume you've found the menu down the right hand side that has each of the areas listed for quick access to blogs for that province.
      We'll also be heading to Central Otago some time over summer, it's one of our favourite places, so look out for us. Thanks again for taking the time to comment.


Thanks for taking the time to comment, it's much appreciated.