Mary Branscombe (marypcb) wrote,
Mary Branscombe

Puff and blow

Up early (thanks for the lift Gary!) to catch the TransAlpine train to Greymouth. A very scenic ride even if it did get rather chilly in the observation car and decidedly damp when we got to the top of Arthur's Pass - the sun over the Canterbury Plain was morning bright and the queue for the buffet was worth it for pancakes and maple syrup. There are a lot of trees up to their armpits in water, bright yellow and green against the sky-blue reflections: I saw one bird of prey, one kiwi and some delightfully comical black birds with red heads bobbing away.

Greymouth is grey, river and stone. It's also deserted in the evening - apart from the carver in the jade shop who drilled and mounted a piece of jade for my charm bracelet on the spot (and didn't charge me for it when I bought a pendant :-) and waitresses in the restaurants and a total of ten people, mostly tourists eating dinner, I didn't see anyone this evening! Houses yes, people no - they must all be on holiday!

It's much busier up at Punkaiki, half an hour up the coast on a fabulous winding road that hugs the shore and creeps round tree-smothered cliffs that shoulder their way into the road. The beaches and the Tasman Sea are grey too and the spray is white, white, white. The pancake rocks are more impressive than they sound - layer on layer of limestone and mudrock so it weathers in stripes as well as chunks. The spray eats away at the cliffs to make caves and curves and blowholes and the curving paths meander enough to make you feel you're alone even when two buses arrive at once. I wonder if it's relaxing to live on the coast and look at the sea and run a guesthouse and make jewellry and sell muffins to tourists, or just as hard work as anything else.

The weather is the definition of chageable. I quite like hot sun and rain at the same time but the hail that drenched me when I wandered across to look at the Grey river was unexpected. The music for this entry would have to be Crowded House Always take the weather with you! Makes much more sense now I've seen NZ!

I didn't expect beef and mussels to go together but they make a very nice pizza topping actually!

Other travellers are nice and chatty. So far I've met a couple from Amsterdam who spent a week at the hot springs after falling off a horse, a twice-laid-off network support engineer fron San Diego who gave up after the second layoff to go travelling and a lovely guy who lives in Alaska, has the Wyoming accent he grew up with and works as the equipment supervisor at the Antarctic base! The world seems larger every time I look round...

Mary on a Blackberry so pardon typing errors

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