Pancakes But No Penguins

Trip Start Sep 05, 2010
Trip End Aug 21, 2011

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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Friday, May 27, 2011

It was clear that the coastal route to Westport was going to be full of hills and a longer way around than cutting across inland to the inter-island ferry at Picton. However, reports of the spectacular coast road made it a very easy decision.  The school party which invaded the campsite last night had not disturbed our sleep and we were out of the very Bognor Regis like town of Greymouth by 10am.

It was still very grey but at least it was not raining.  We took on enough water yesterday to last us weeks. The road was pretty flat for 10 miles and then we started to hit a few hills.  The very good news was that the wind that made yesterday afternoon far from funny, had turned.  We now had a good south-westerly which was on our backs and making the ride very relaxing.  When we hit the sea again it was another New Zealand 'WOW' moment.  The waves rolled in with fury and the jagged rocks along the coast stood there and took it right in the face.

It was time for lunch but we wanted to make it to Punakaika which would be 30 miles for the morning.  Usually a little far but with the wind we were hurtling along between 15-20mph, we were there in no time.  Punakaika plays host to a rare geological phenomena.  A weathering process known as stylobedding has sculpted the limestone rocks at Dolomite Point into stacks of giant pancakes.  The blowholes around the rocks also create huge booms when the waves crash in.  It was another worthwhile walk off the bikes and the muffins and hot chocolate made it even better.  We could have done without the flat tyre when we got back on, not sure what happened but my back wheel was flat.  It is not going down as a puncture as on inspection no hole was found.

The afternoon continued in spectacular fashion.  The ‘Drive Carefully, Penguins for 5km’ sign summed up the closeness to nature along the West Coast.  The triple hill climb at Pakhihi was tough late in the day but as usual, hills = cracking views and fast freewheeling downhills. 

50 miles on the clock and we came to Charlestown. Campsite on offer we decided to carry on to a cool little hostel we had heard about where they served great pizza.  Jack’s Gastof sounded great but when we drew up the gates were very much closed. ‘CLOSED FOR WINTER’ read the sign.  Frustrating.  The light had almost gone and it was too far to Westport.  One last hope, Beaconstone was also in the guidebook and it was only 4 miles away (up a couple more hills for good measure).

Beaconstone is a gem.  The owners, originally from San Francisco have built a true paradise with a very eco-friendly theme (that unfortunately means no TV or Internet, not sure we are going to make it through the evening).  The best past is that we are the only people here.  The whole house to ourselves.

Today really was another spectacular ride.  This road features in The Lonely Planets Top 10 road trips in the world. I would definitely agree with them on this one. No penguins spotted though.

Miles Cycled: 56, should have only been 53 but Jacks was closed for the winter
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