Greymouth to Franz Josef via Hokitika

While in Greymouth our B&B host had recommended that we should see the Pancake Rocks which are only  a few kilometres North of the town along the coastal highway.  So, on leaving the next morning, we duly made our way along that road.

Our hire car. An upgrade!
Our hire car. An upgrade!

The weather was warm and muggy and we saw sea clouds rolling in in places.  The road is pretty much along the sea with the semi-tropical forest, typical of the Western side of the mountains, rising steeply inland.



We got to the rocks in no time at all, despite our first experience of the common NZ road building technique of connecting stretches of two lane road with single track bridges.  Disconcerting until you get used to it.  I think we had expected the rocks would be at the end of a track from a nondescript car park.  Not so.  There is a large car park, iSite, cafe and a Tarmac path with information boards leading down to, round and back from the rocks via a different route.  It was also our first experience of a tourist site in NZ at Chinese New Year.  It was busy. And we saw our first Jucy rental vehicle, a common sight on the roads here.

While on the path down to the rocks, we heard lots of cicadas chirping (If they chirp.  Perhaps that’s crickets). They were on the flax plants and one was clearly visible.

Pancake Rocks looking South
Pancake Rocks looking South

The Pancake Rocks are in Punakaiki. They are layers of limestone, the layers being caused by the pressure on alternating layers of hard and soft deposits when the rocks were formed. A very interesting formation, slowly being worn away by the action of the sea. There are blow holes which perform at high tide and probably best with strong onshore surf. We didn’t have those conditions so we stayed dry.

Leaving the Rocks, we turned back towards Greymouth and passed through on our way to Hokitika. The cloud had cleared by this time and we arrived in brilliant sunshine.  The town is now a centre for tourism and, it would appear, a laid-back lifestyle. We had a wander around the beach looking at some of the imaginative art work made from drift wood in a recent competition.

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