NZ 2020: Day 4, Punakaiki

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

The sun was still shining when we woke up to a beautiful morning in Punakaiki!

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Morning view from our lodging.

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Southern rata and cabbage tree

We spent the day hiking in Paparoa National Park.

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Our destinations for the day.

Pororari Punakaiki River Track

We had our first chance to fully immerse ourselves in the rain forest. It was beautiful, and very different from our usual forests in Oregon.

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The red line shows our trail. Our guide dropped us at the Pororari River, then hiked in to meet us from the Punakaiki car park.

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Limestone cliff above the Pororari River.

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Tree ferns

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Nikau palms

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Each turn in the trail revealed interesting views.

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Palm trunk

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Cut trunk of a tree fern?

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Pororari River, looking west toward the ocean.

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We were learning the unusual (to us) foliage – this is the Rimu, or red pine, a member of the native Podocarp family. We would see these throughout our travels on the South Island.

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The red blooming tree is the Southern Rata, a native evergreen tree.

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Our guide had us taste the inner core of the supplejack vine – a bit like asparagus.

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We were excited to see a few weka birds running across the trail and in the parking area. They are flightless native birds about the size of chickens, sometimes regarded as nuisances, but are a protected species, as are all the native birds.

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Weka

Punakaiki Pancake Rocks

After lunch we visited the famous Pancake Rocks. The tide wasn’t quite high enough for spouting during our visit, but we admired the weirdly eroded limestone rock formations and ocean views.

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View to the south.

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Closer look

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Limestone layers

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Red-billed gull

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Imaginative viewing.

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View north to the next destination – the Truman Track.

Truman Track

The Truman Track leads through rainforest to the beach.

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It was a little misty in the forest.

By the time we reached the beach the sun was out.

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View to the south back toward Punakaiki.

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Truman Cove beach to the north.

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The tide was going out as we walked along the sand.

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Pebbly “sand”

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Marine fossils in the sandstone cliffs and ledges

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Overhanging sand stone cliffs, and view to the beach stairs.

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Stairs up through New Zealand flax back to the trailhead.

We had a lovely day exploring interesting rocks, fossils, pebbly beaches, and rainforest palms and tree ferns of Paparoa. Tomorrow we would go south along the West Coast toward Fiordland. Our three hikes for the day added up to about 7 miles/600 feet (#3 for 2020).