Adventures on New Zealand's West Coast

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I’ve always been fascinated by what I’ve heard about New Zealand’s South Island’s West Coast. People have told me that it is incredibly beautiful, remote and sparsely populated, and also incredibly wet. I think that these factors may be related. Rainfall here is measured in metres, as the moist air from the ocean deposits its wetness as it rises over the mountains that string along the side of South Island.

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This week I got the chance to visit the West Coast for a few days. One day was just solid rain, but the days either side were lovely. And it really is a beautiful place.

We stayed in Punakaki, which is found between Greymouth and Westport. It’s very close to the Paparoa National Park, and this is where the region’s biggest attraction, Pancake Rocks, is found. This is a series of eroded limestone cliffs and blowholes, and it’s very impressive.

Pancake Rocks

Pancake Rocks

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We also really enjoyed the Porarori River Track, which is some of the most stunning scenery I’ve encountered. The benefit of so much rain is that everything is green and lush. And plants grow all over other plants, too (these are known as epiphytes).

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Intricate mosses growing on a tree trunk

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Liverworts, with spore capsules

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We also visited Hokitika, the town that’s the setting for Eleanor Catton’s brilliant The Luminaries. It was very rainy and bleak. And we also popped into the Shanty Town, a historical recreation of a gold mining town from the late 19th century. This was also quite rainy and bleak.

This is a film of our West Coast adventure:

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