I can't believe it! How is it December 13th already? Have we really been traveling in our motorhome for 12 days already? And to think how easy and enjoyable it has been. When we started, I wasn't sure what to expect, but I have to say, we, as a family, have seriously grown to love traveling this way.
Today marks the day of our turning point. Today is the day we will cross the South Island from the West to the East, where we hope to explore one last destination before saying goodbye to Wendekreisen and heading to the North Island.
But before all that happens, today is the day we will explore our last sight on the west coast: the pancake rocks. The carpark where we camped last night was only about a couple of miles away from the Punakaiki information center, where we could park for free and walk to the rocks. To see the pancake rocks and the "blowholes", we went on a 20 minute walk in a loop that was both informative and beautiful.
"Scientists know the rocks are limestones formed under the sea 35 million years ago by fragments of marine organisms. What they cannot quite fathom is precisely how the rocks came to be in layers."
Since we were there at low tide, we didn't really get to see the blowholes in action. We read that during high tide the force of waves hitting the small openings at the bottom of the stacks create blowholes and surge pools.
After the walk, we asked the information center about a cavern we had read about. After they confirmed that it can be explored alone, we took Kian's headlamp from the RV and headed over to explore our first cavern, unguided! On our way out of the parking lot, we saw a Weka, one of New Zealand's flightless birds, and a few of her babies!
I was not particularly a fan of exploring the cavern, after the first room it was completely pitch black, though at the end it ended up being fun. Kian had a blast walking around with his headlamp. I was mostly not excited about slipping and sliding on the mud, in my flip flops, and I don't why but I was feeling a bit claustrophobic in there! We did go all the way to the end of the cavern and we all returned in one piece. The kids did have a lot of fun, feeling like explorers, which made me have to be brave enough to go all the way to the end.
After our adventures in Punakaiki, we began our trip back to the East Coast. We stopped at the Tawhai Picnic area, a gorgeous spot for lunch where we would have had a lovely picnic lunch if it weren't for a million bees!! Yikes! Instead we just dined inside trusty Wendekreisen.
The drive to Kaikoura was about 4 hours long and was absolutely gorgeous. I think we are convinced that finding a spot on the South Island that is not breath taking will be pretty difficult.
We stayed at another free site slightly north of Kaikoura, a spot known as Meatworks. I am not sure what the name means or where it comes from, but what I do know is that we were able to find a wonderful spot with views of the ocean, and tons of awesome surfers! It was like having the TV on a surf contest channel, very entertaining. It was chilly and cool so we decided to explore the beach tomorrow morning. Kian used his free time to make a couple of fun drawings. My favorite is our family as Kiwis! :)
Elmer the Elf Update
Yesterday, Kian and Hannah agreed that they had nothing more to add to the lists they made for Santa. We told Elmer that he could take them to the North Pole last night. He came back this morning letting us know that he had delivered the lists and brought back Magic Elves chocolate for Kian and Hannah.