After some maritime adventures in Abel Tasman National Park and a night resting at Westport, it was time to head for south island west coast and visit the Pancakes Rocks and Hokitika gorges. But before living Westport to hit the road we wanted to go at Cape Foulwind to see the seal colony. I love to watch animals especially in their natural environment so I didn’t want to miss this opportunity! Can you spot them in this photo ?
There are a few of them sleeping or playing in those rocks.
The walk to reach cape Foulwind is fully wheelchair accessible despite some moderate slopes. At the end of the pathway there is a view point from where the seal colony is visible. This is also a good spot to look at the waves smashing on rocks.
Just before leaving to the Pancakes Rocks we stopped a second time to walk the Truman Track in Punakaiki. This 1400 metres return walk goes through bushes and ends facing the ocean. Rolling through the bush in a wheelchair is easy with another person to push. Even if the ground is mostly flat there are a few steep slopes. The ground is covered by small compacted gravels. Consequently moving forward is quite easy… until going out of the bush! From there it is impossible to continue in a wheelchair, there are about fifteen steps and then the pathway goes through slippery rocks. So for me that was the end of the walk, at the top of the beach. Franck stayed with me and we admired a violent sea crushing into the coast. During this time our friend Dimitri walked in this black sand beach where cliffs seem to have been planed by the waves blades.
After this walk I was impatient to discover the famous Pancakes Rocks, well-known because they are supposed to look like pancakes. Personally I don’t think it looks like pancakes but those rocky formations are still impressive. It is very different from everything I saw. It is very beautiful and very intriguing at the same time. Scientists agree this superposition of layers was formed 30 millions years ago by sediments accumulation and ocean pressure. Originally these rocky formations were underwater and then earthquakes made them move above sea level. However scientists still do not know why those layers are so regular.
The truth is out there!
I was pleasantly surprised that this place is so wheelchair friendly! I knew it is supposed to be wheelchair accessible but I though it would have a simple platform offering a good view. This is even better. There is a wheelchair accessible walk which allows to have different view points of the pancakes rocks and of rocky cavities. It is really well-made. Only one small part is not accessible and need to be bypassed. This walk is surely one on the best accessible places in New Zealand.
After a quick lunch we headed to Hokitika gorges. The road to go there is enjoyable: mainly straight roads in the middle of grasslands and with Arthur’s Pass National Park in the background.
Arthur’s Pass National Park in the background.
Here we are at Hokitika gorges! It is the first time that I see a river with a creamy turquoise colour! Information board along the pathway explain that this colour is due to a combination of crumbled schist and limestone rocks with melted ice from the glacier and river water. It is so beautiful! Even more with the cliffs surrounding the river. We had a really good time despite sandflies attacking Dimitri while he was taking pictures.
In the parking at the beginning of the walk you will find restrooms. One is accessible. The walk is also accessible until the first viewpoint. The rest of it is not categorised as wheelchair accessible but it is still possible to do it. The ground is a bit uneven at some parts but it is possible with another person’s help, especially at the entrance and exit of the suspension bridge. That would be a shame not to do the entire walk. Just being on the suspension bridge and enjoying the view is worth it.
The suspension bridge seen from the end of the walk.
After this superb sunny afternoon we reached lake Mahinapua Doc campsite to spend the night. Dimitri slept in his tent whereas Franck and I slept in our car. Animals tried to play tricks on us! Wekas, endemic birds from New Zealand tried many times to enter into our car to stole food and sandflies attacked us. I hate those! They are the worst thing in New Zealand. Despite this we had a really good time, particularly during the photos session.
So today I am leaving you with my best smile in memory of this beautiful day! See you soon for new adventures!