Becky and I got up early so we could be the first to get to the showers. When we got there, they were being cleaned by the Ranger dude. Bonus! Not only do we each get showers before everyone else, but super CLEAN showers too! So, we showered and dressed and began packing up to head to the farm for our morning horseback ride. Before we left, we were able to see some of the mountaintops that we didn’t get to see the night before at the lake. Sooo neat.
When we went out on the dock too and I noticed the water was super clear, even in the deep parts! I think it was at least 6 feet deep when I took the below shot.
We had to be at the farm by 9:30, so back on the road we went. We stopped to get a quick breakfast at a coffee shop on our way to Richmond, and arrived at Stonehurst Farm on time.
There were two horses in the paddock that already had saddles on them. They were ours! Becky got Dinky and I got Rodney. In fact, we were the only two going on our trail ride that morning, so we totally lucked out! Sue was our guide, and she was great. I’ve been on many trail rides before and this one was the best ones I’ve been on in my life. We actually had some control over our horses and the whole ride was very personalized for us.
The scenery on “The Musterers Trail” was beautiful. We lucked out with the weather. The sun came out and the clouds went away. Sue led the way through pretty pastures, bits of forest and we even did a stream crossing! I had to keep my camera tucked away so I don’t have many pics of the surroundings, but Sue used Becky’s camera to take pics for us (must be a liability thing!). In addition to all the naturey stuff I saw, I spied a few Quail families along the way. Sue told us all about the area, the trees, the history of the land, etc. Did I mention she was cool? Halfway through our ride, we stopped at the Musterer’s shack, which was actually called Cherry Flat Hut. We dismounted and let our horses take a break in a small pasture. While Sue was putting together some snacks for us, I, being the kid that I am, climbed on the “bucking bronco” as shown below. Tee hee hee. It was actually kinda fun!
Here’s Sue and Becky enjoying some cookies, granola bars, water and an orange drink that looked and tasted exactly like Tang.
After our snack break, we gathered up our horses for an enjoyable ride back to the farm. We did some trotting on the way which I thought was fun but poor Becky kinda got thrashed a bit without posting (rising and falling in the saddle in time with the horses gait). At one point, Rodney got totally spooked at something and sprang forward with a jolt, which also set off Dinky, as well as Sue’s horse too. After a few minutes of getting the horses calmed down and back in proper formation, all was well once again. 🙂 Once we got back to the barn we dismounted and thanked our horses and our guide. It had warmed up quite a bit, so we went to
the van to open the windows. When Becky tried to start the van, we had no response. Dead battery! Becky had left the lights on by accident. Fortunately, the kind gentleman who owns the red truck next to our van, jump started our little RV (with Sue’s help). This was majorly nice of them and saved us so much time. I tried to give them some money to thank them for all their help, but they wouldn’t accept it. I tried hard too! Wow. Some NZ folks are indeed THAT nice.
So back on the road we went, heading to the west coast. We grabbed some yummy sandwiches that we could eat while driving, so that we could save time. We also stopped at one point to get gas. While at the gas station, we got ice cream. This wasn’t any old ice cream though. This was MAGNUM ice cream. It was advertised all over the place and looked very tasty (especially on this warm day!) so we finally succumbed and bought some. Even though it was expensive, it was a wonderful treat that we thoroughly enjoyed. We continued on and went through some pretty mountains call the Lyell Range. We saw the longest swinging bridge in New Zealand (my pic is too blurry of that to post, sorry!). To give you and idea of the scenery and roads that we experienced along the way, see below. The roads got crazy narrow in places.
Hmm, ya think?!?
On our way, Becky happened to see a sign for Seal Colony! Hmmmm…..Was this a place just called Seal Colony or was a place that actually had seals? We decided to find out. Cape Foulwind is where the seal colony is located. Yep, that’s right. Cape Foulwind. I’d rather call it Cape Fart, but that’s just me. However, Cape Foulwind didn’t smell foul at all! It was, as usual, beautiful when we got to the ocean, as you can see below (and it smelled good too.)
I couldn’t believe that just a short while ago, we were driving over big mountains and crossing large, fresh-water streams….much like what I would imagine Montana to look like. And now? We are at the ocean!
We followed a nicely groomed path along the craggy rocks, and then we started to hear the seals! Sure enough, there they were, New Zealand Fur Seals, on a bunch of large rock outcroppings. There were big ones and really cute baby ones too. This was definitely a wonderful, unexpected surprise that we got to witness.
Not only where there seals here, there was yet another elusive (elusive at least for me!) bird called a Western Weka. They were almost like a small, brown chicken with big beaks. There was a few of them around, some with babies! Every time I tried to take a picture of one, they got shy and would run into the bushes. Dang birdies! Ok so time’s a wastin’. We needed to git, and that we did. We got back on the main road and were now trying to find Pancake Rocks. In so doing, we accidentally went to a place called the Truman Track Hike. The hike went from the main road, through what seemed like a tropical rainforest, and ultimately rewarded us with these gorgeous vistas.
It was really pretty, but we began to notice these little buggies that were biting us. They were small… smaller than mosquitos, and faster than them too. When they bit, it hurt! We enjoyed the scenery for a bit and then headed back to the main road. We still needed to get to Pancake Rocks, and wanted to get away from them dang bugs! Not much farther down the road, we finally found ’em (the rocks, and the bugs too, darn it!).
No one really knows whey the limestone rocks in this particular area are layered like they are. It’s definitely interesting to see, especially with the ocean meandering through them. You can kinda see the layers of the rocks in the picture above.
Even though we couldn’t get enough of Pancake Rocks, it was getting late, and those dang buggies were biting. We did some shopping and then we went to get some dinner. As you can imagine, we were starving after such a long day of activities and driving…and we weren’t done yet! We ate at the bar of a friendly pub. We would have eaten outside, but those buggies were out there too. We learned that these little boogers were sandflies. No one wanted to sit outside because of them. The inside was packed with patrons, many of which were watching the rugby game on tv (a MAJOR sport in NZ). After refueling our bodies with a nice dinner, back on the road we went. We needed to get to Greymouth that night. I love the below clip, ’cause it gives you good insight into what our lives were like when we were on the road (again). 🙂
By the time we actually got to Greymouth, it was quite dark. We got lost and couldn’t find the Top 10 campground. Luckily, they had a toll-free #, so we stopped at a phone booth in some odd part of the city and got directions. After bumbling about a bit more, we finally found it. I was excited because it was right on the beach. Even better? There were NO sandflies. Ahhh. We made our way to one of the last camping spots, as it was crowded that night. We were SO tired. Still, we walked over to check out the beach with our headlamps (had to! It’s the beach!). It was neat. The waves were loud and we could see the lights of ships far out at sea. Soon after that, we went to bed. We left the windows in the back of our RV opened a crack so we could hear the ocean. It was loud, but really peaceful. I could even hear it through my ear plugs! We fell sound asleep, but a HUGE rainstorm came through in the middle of the night. It rained hard and the wind was so strong, it rocked our van! In fact, I dreamt that someone was siphoning gas from us, and they were rocking the van to try and get as much as possible out of the tank – lol! I thought it was for real! When we got up the next morning, I was amazed at how many people were camping in tents all around us. How did their tents even stay together, much less, stay staked to the ground? It was still really windy and a lot of them looked like they were going to blow away any second! Then….I spied something amazing that I had never seen before, right next door to us. Wanna know was what it was? You’ll see on Day 9!!!