Another lengthy drive today, around 5 hours or so plus stops. But some great stops along the way. Here's the map of our drive.View NZ 2013, Feb 24 in a larger map
The first part of the drive was through farmland, mostly Apple orchards. Beautiful countryside but very isolated.
After we reached the coast, our first stop was to take a 30 minute hike along the Truman Track, a path that wanders through some typical NZ bush country out to ocean - actually it's the Tasman Sea, not an ocean. Lynda really enjoyed spotting all the native plants and trees, aided by signs by many of them indicating what the Maori used them for. Many of them had medicinal purposes, or at least claimed to.
We ran into a German couple who had been on the kayaking trip we were on in Able Tasman the day before. This is a pretty common tourist route I think!
Our next stop was a little further down the coast in Punakaiki, home of the pancake rocks. These are cliffs and free standing rocks in the sea whose geological formation has left them looking much like stacks of pancakes. There are also some blowholes there but the tide wasn't cooperating so didn't see them in action.
Carried on from there to find somewhere to eat dinner. Our guide book directed us to the Empire Hotel in Ross, a tiny little gold mining town so we made a short detour. What a find! It was like stepping back 50 years in time. The place was full of locals who made us very welcome. They also had live music consisting of a young guy on a Fender guitar and an old guy who looked like he was left over form the gold rush days playing acoustic guitar. Their music genre of choice? Country and Western! They were actually pretty good.
The food was a roast dinner - all you can eat for NZ$20. Roast lamb and chicken, lots of veggies roastt potatoes and home made gravy. Dessert was either cheesecake or chocolate cake, also home made. Really glad we made the detour!
From there, drove on to Franz Josef and the Bella Vista motel, arriving around 9pm.