Thursday, December 29, 2016

Punakaiki or Pancake Rocks

After spending a few days in Pohara New Zealand we traveled to the west coast and stayed in Westport. Our host at the local holiday park encouraged us to visit Pancake rocks at high tide. Our high tide window for optimal viewing was 11 AM-12 PM. That didn't seem so hard. Off we drove down the two lane road. The closer we got to the famed limestone rocks, the more spectacular the coastline became. For the most part we didn't encounter to many other cars until we were within reach of our stopping point. 
Now here is where the story gets interesting. With the knowledge of having to be there during high tide we knew more tourists would probably be in the vicinity. However since it was late spring before the Christmas holidays for the school kids began we didn't think it would be all that busy. Nor did we foresee what we were about to encounter. 

Have you ever heard of a McLaren?
 It is a very expensive sports car. In fact last I heard they had some of the fastest cars in the world.

Picture yourself driving down a two lane road in the middle of nowhere. A very fancy sports car drives past but you don't really register it. You are now very close to your destination and getting excited about the natural wonder you are about to see. You have gotten to your destination within the perfect time range so that you should have a great viewing of the famed pancake rocks, you get ready to pull your camper van into the parking lot when you notice something.
RVs, camper vans and other cars are trying to do U-turns. You turn into the parking lot and quickly register your mistake and also take in the scene. Not one but somewhere between 30 to 50 McLarens are parked blocking most of the parking lot and on the visitor center grounds. There is some meet/ car show or owner get together that has taken over the entire area. 
Now remember you are in a remote area of a small country where the sheep out number the humans. How is it there is one McLaren let alone 50 in this parking lot at the optimum viewing time?!
There is no parking the way your camper van is facing. There might be a spot on the opposite side of the road really far down there but you are to shocked to whip a u-turn.  
Instead you find yourself driving a kilometer or two down the road, pulling off at the designated rest area and staring at a pancake rock formation that isn't by the ocean nor does it have any blowholes spouting up for dramatic effect. And that my friends is exactly what happened to me. Maybe some day I will experience the famed pancake rocks and blowholes in Punakaiki but not this visit. 

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