Monday, January 11, 2010

Westport to Punakaiki

This morning we woke to more rain and were apprehensive about what the day had in store for us. We had a late breakfast (8:30, because we that was the earliest the cafe would serve), which was probably a good thing. By the time we finished breakfast and were ready to start off, the rain had spent its course. For the first hour, I was still dressed for rain (and cold), but it continued to get warmer and brighter. After an hour we had good sun that lasted the rest of the day.

It was a short ride today -- 36 miles from Westport to Punakaiki. The latter is a very small town (like just about every other town we pass through), but we have a very nice resort hotel right on the ocean. All rooms are ocean view.

The ride was mostly gentle hills, with one very long and fun descent to the sea. The road ran right along the water's edge for many miles with some great views. The foliage is very interesting -- lots of large fern trees, and the rata trees with their red blooms are at their peak. We are also starting to see some palms that I think are called "bottle palms." At one picture stop, I was able to get some close up shots of a weka, a flightless bird that is fairly common in NZ.

I had intended to include a picture of the sign alerting traffic to watch out for penguins, but this computer does not allow external drives. I kept my eyes open for the penguins as I biked along the coast for several miles, but did not see any. Bill, one of our guides, thought that this is probably the wrong season.

Tomorrow is a rest day, so we will be at this hotel for two nights. If we have enough people interested, we will probably go caving, which involves traveling through the caves, floating in an inner tube (wearing a wet suit) and coming out in the river. It is supposed to be a four hour adventure and sounds like fun.

Lunch was on our own today, so I stopped in Punakaiki's only pub and had a really good hamburger. From there it was only about a mile to the hotel.

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