New Zealand – March 21


Continued from March 20th

Another very early pre-dawn walk to Wharariki beach for sunrise and fresh light over the ocean, and for once I didn’t get soaked by waves.   

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That morning, I found very strange tracks in the sand where there hadn’t been tracks the previous night at sunset. Webbed feet with small pokes in the sand on both sides, what could it be? Then I realized.. Penguins! The little marks are where the wing tips touch the sand when they waddle. So cool to see!

I spent more time at the tidal pool with the New Zealand Fur Seal pups, watching them delight in playing and splashing. 

The fur seals live (nest? roost?) in a cave high up in the rocks- the top left photo below shows the dark cave entrance in the center of the photo. Momma seal came down from her cave and gave me a good look up and down before settling on the sand for primping and sleeping.

I only had time for a short walk on Farewell Spit, a 28km (17 miles) long sand spit at the north west corner of the south island. 

Then I started my drive south, backtracking many hours on the same roads I’d traveled yesterday. I stopped in a gorge (below left), where I swam in the freezing water. The west coastline was awesome, with tiny, perfectly round grey and white pebbles, huge sharp rocks rising off the beach, and mist from the pounding sea. 

Pancake rocks was the sunset destination and it was exceptional. Awesome limestone formations, blowholes (below right), giant crevasses with great walking paths and late afternoon light.

These limestone “pancakes” are thought to have been formed over 25 million years ago.

Catching the light transition from yellow through orange to pink at the last rays of the day.

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