07 January 2012

Southern Coast

I have so little time left of my holiday, so now I am cramming in as much quality time as possible, as opposed to just lazing the time away. So on my second-to-last weekend here I have first driven up to a small place called Pukemaori, where my friend's grandma lives and where I spent quite a lot of my holidays as a child. These days it is mostly the same as it always was, except instead of there being one completely mad rooster that would chase children down the road, there is now a flock of little chickens that do their best to make the house their home.

Down in the gully is a tyre swing that we used to pull up into the tree so that we could swing down, which was always incredibly scary the first time round and I, being a huge wuss, used to sit there for ages trying to force myself to do it.

On of the points of the trip was to take a tiki-tour on the way back and stop at all the old beaches we used to visit. The first stop was at Clifden, where there is an old suspension bridge across the Waiau river, but the bridge was closed! So we could not walk across and could only go down to the banks and test how cold the water was. It's a really strong river and we generally were not allowed to swim in there, but at the moment the water is low due to the rather uncharacteristic lack of rain down here.

Next stop was a random little cemetery where we had a look at the old gravestones, which for reasons unknown were being guarded by a big rooster.

Finally we reached the coast and first stopped at a lookout over Te WaeWae bay, which was really cold and windy so we didn't stay long.

Next was Orepuki, which is also called gemstone beach because stones tend to wash up in big piles, and semi-precious stones can be found there. However, there were no stones for us to find that day, only piles of bluebottles, which is a type of small jelly-fish. They wash in where there a big storms and currents out at sea, they can sting so when the wash in we always had to get out of the water as kids. This time around they were just washed up on the beach and the smell was pretty awful!

This beach is not a beach for swimming, there is a really strong undertow. You can tell just by looking at the waves really and listening to the way that they drag all the stones back under the water.

There are big sandstone cliffs around the beach with lots of interesting colours. There used to be a small cave that somebody had dug out and we were too afraid to go in it, but when we were older we realised there was nothing scary in there, it was just a small dead-end. By that point we had to pretty much bend double to even get in there. The cave has gone now, it seems to have eroded away completely. Once we climbed up these holes that had been dug into the cliff to get to what seemed to be a window, which you can see below. Little did we know that there was a house behind that wall and somebody heard us coming. When we finally got to the top and poked our heads through the hole we found a face staring straight at us and it gave us such a fright that we just let go and fell straight back down the cliff. Luckily it was just a small cliff.

Near the beach entrance was a man made of wood pointing out to the water, and wearing a hat. It was interesting so I took a photo.

After Orepuki we came to Monkey Island, were the water is nice and blue and warm, but it was such a windy day that it felt too cold for swimming. We walked out to the island instead - at very low tide it is not an island at all but at high tide you have to swim to it.

We made a brief stop at Mullet bay, which is also called Cosy Nook but the real Cosy Nook is actually the next beach over. It is windy and rocky and has little fishing shacks all around it. There used to be a lot of mullet there but they have practically been fished out. There are a lot of little islands in the bay, but it was much too cold to get out of the car, let alone go for a paddle to get to them.

Finally we made it to Colac Bay, where the water always looks lovely, but again it was too windy for swimming. We continued on our way to Riverton, where we had fish and chips for lunch, on the beach. There we were sheltered from the wind but the water was cold so our attempt to go for a swim ended at about our knees.

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