Tag results for: South Island

Yellow-eyed penguins, the rarest penguins (and most attractive I’d say) in the world, endemic to New Zealand. If you prefer, call them by their Māori names, hōiho or takaraka. Whatever, with their distinctive band of yellow plumage and yellow eyes, they are the treasure of Nugget Point.

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Last days of November, rain
string and almost solid,
incessantly gathering darkness around it
At one in the afternoon

November, the “dead end of Autumn,” the rainiest month in Vancouver. Dreary, monotonous and sullen rains. However, they can’t compare with the pelting, fierce, torrential rains that lashed out upon Magellan and me in Punakaiki, an area in southwestern New Zealand that suffers twice as much rainfall.

Punakaiki (poona-kai-key) is on the Great Coast Road, a narrow strip that runs parallel to the Southern Alps on the sparsely populated west side of the South Island. Prevailing westerlies fan across the Tasman Sea and on encountering the mountains, condense their moisture into “industrial strength” rain, about 2800 mm/year. Incessantly it fell the day we were there, April 26, fall in New Zealand. So why did we hang around? Marg and Don said we had to, for the same reason more than 400,000 visitors do every year—to see the geologically unique Pancake Rocks at high tide.

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In his book NZ Frenzy, Scott Cook starts off his discussion of Paturau (Pah-too-rau) Beach with these words: “Oh my god, no way, oh wow, I’ll be damned.”

He says it took him seven summers of travelling to New Zealand’s South Island before he made it to Paturau. We’re almost as tardy—it’s taken us four years to showcase this “sweet as” beach, slang in New Zealand for “as good as it gets.”

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Indisputably the best walk on the South Island,” says Scott Cook about Hooker Valley Track in his guidebook NZ Frenzy.

There’s even higher praise—many references cite New Zealand’s Hooker Valley as the best day track in the entire country.

After hiking it in late April, NZ’s autumn, Magellan and I gave it five stars.

But a question kept popping into my wayward mind while hiking: where did the name Hooker come from? I forgot about it until researching for this post. Now I’m even more stoked about this track.

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Lake Manapouri

“Did you like Milford Sound?”

That’s the first question you’ll be asked when you tell people you were on the South Island of New Zealand for three weeks.

When Magellan and I answer meekly, “We didn’t go there,” we’re met with the same dumbfounded expression you’d give to people visiting the Rockies and admitting they didn’t go to Lake Louise.

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In the language of New Zealand’s indigenous Māori, the word Moeraki means “drowsy day.”

We were ready for a drowsy day, for Moeraki. The previous day we woke up before the sun in Auckland, drove slowly to the airport (because a tire on our rental car had blown out on the freeway and we were now poking along with a dinky spare), almost missed the flight to Christchurch because of limited service to the airport from the car rental company’s remote location, spent two hours learning about Kohanga (the motorhome we were renting) and then stocking her with supplies, drove three hours to a campsite and then maneuvered Kohanga down a darkened detour road for a renowned seafood dinner at Fleur’s (and back). Whew!

We were ready for the easy thirty-minute stroll from our campsite down Koekohe Beach to the famous Moeraki Boulders—nature’s biggest beach balls. One of the most unusual beach formations in the world.

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