Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Villa Backpackers, Picton, NZ

There’s not much on the (one) main street in Punakaiki, Two cafés, one of which has a gift shop, and one of which has “groceries,” which means white bread, milk, eggs, some canned food, and lots of candy bars.

Speaking of eggs, they don’t refrigerate theirs here. It’s weird. In the supermarket they’re just on the shelves like cereal or something. Really weird.

Anyway. So. Not much obvious in Punakaiki, consumer-wise. Busses stop for an hour or two for lunch and so people can see the pancake rocks and blowholes.


The time to see them is during a rough low tide, when the waves crash up through the rocks.


I stayed in one of the two(ish) hostels in town, and ended up staying three nights instead of the planned two. The beach is gorgeous, and it’s really comfortable.





While there I went on what was, according to the map, a 15 minute walk through the bush, down to the beach and some limestone cliffs. What the map didn’t say was that it was a 30 minute walk to the 15-minute walk. Sneaky. Very sneaky.




No tremendously exciting stories from Punakaiki. A few games of Jenga that got pretty heated. The team from Holland trounced the team from America, even though there were two of us and one of him. That was a little embarrassing. But we finished it with a few beers at the local pub, so that was okay. Oh, and there were clear nights and shooting stars, which were pretty excellent.

In Punakaiki I managed to get hold of a contra dancer I know from NC – R – whose partner – S – lives in NZ. He’d said he’d be in the country starting in October, but I’d had his email address wrong and couldn’t get hold of him. Turned out, by freak chance, that his partner lived an hour from where I was staying. An hour in the wrong direction, but there it was.

They invited me to stay with them a few nights, and so I got a lift from the other member of Team America: Jenga-Style to Greymouth. He’s a very nice chap, but very talkative, and kept driving team Holland and I around and around Greymouth. I’ll tell you what there is to do and see in Greymouth: nothing. There is nothing in Greymouth. I know, because I had to spend 5 hours there, waiting until it was time to meet up with S. I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t said something he would still be driving us around today.


R and S fed me whitebait, which, if you don’t know (I didn’t) is some variety of baby fish, served, in this context, in an omelet. I didn’t think it added much to the flavor, and knowing that all the little black specks in it were eyes, and seeing all the little fish bodies, wondering if that little extra texture was their bones, creeped me out pretty well. I don’t think I’ll be eating it again.

I hope I didn’t ruin it for any of you.

After a few days S dropped me back in Greymouth where I spent another 5 hours waiting for my bus. Seriously. Another 5 hours.

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