After the glaciers we continued our journey up the West Coast of the South Island. Much of the drive hugged the rugged coastline, but rather than being awed by the views we were more surprised by how utterly bleak this part of the world feels. Yet again we had poor weather which made the sea look grey and uninviting as the waves crashed onto the shore. We didn't see anyone on the beaches and the sand was dotted with washed up driftwood bleached white from the sea and the sun. There was a feeling that we were looking at something timeless a true glimpse of the natural world and the power and ferocity of the ocean.
There were a number of small pockets of civilisation, but these were few and far between. I found it hard to imagine a life in one of these locations and found myself longing for shops, cafes and the hustle and bustle of even a small town.
We stopped off at Punakaiki to see the Pancake Rocks (rock formations which look like stacks of pancakes). As we drove past we were amazed by the volume of cars and campers parked up in the car park, it was one of the busiest tourist attractions we had been to. We excitedly got out the van and headed to look at the rocks...but what a disappointment, to us they looked just like rocks (okay in layers, but nothing special). After wandering around for a bit muttering "Has no-one ever seen the coast before?"...and "What a fuss about nothing"...we headed back to the van and continued north, taking with us an increased admiration of the Kiwi ability to make a tourist attraction out of nothing much.
PS - It looked a bit better in the photos.