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Mark's World Tour 2007-08

Day 249: Karamea to Punakaiki

NEW ZEALAND | Friday, 11 July 2008 | Views [1153]

The Fenian Caves near Karamea

The Fenian Caves near Karamea

Friday 11th July

I got up to find a grey day in progress and the cold shower that I took didn't do much to raise the temperture for me. Being a super eco-friendly kind of place, 'Rongo' worked off as little electricity as possible, and the water was heated by solar-panels, meaning that the water could vary considerably depending on the time of day and the weather. A grey early morning, therefore, wasn't going to do too much to warm my cockles, but I braved it out nonetheless. A cold shower is better than no shower in my book.

So, the weather had taken a change for the worse but we weren't too downhearted as there was potential for improvement later in the day. I had discovered that there was a section of land near Karamea called the 'Fenian Area', comprised of a 'Fenian Track', 'Fenian Caves', and a 'Fenian Road'; whoever named these places was obviously trying to force the message home! I was interested to at least have a look at this track, given the Irish connection suggested in these names.

We bade farewell to Paul, Brian and Amber, the guys who worked at 'Rongo', very pleased to have spent a few days at such a cool hostel. We drove to the start of the 'Fenian Track' but Danika and Tom announced that they weren't that pushed on doing any walking that morning, so they dropped me off at the car park and drove back into Karamea to go for hot chocolate. The weather was starting to look up and the clouds were getting whiter, and I planned to meet the guys where they had left me about two hours later.

I walked along for a while, but the track wasn't too exciting. I was taking a few photos whe I saw a guy marching steadily towards me and we got chatting as we walked together. He was on his way to work, his job involving the upgrade of the trail, one of about six people who worked for a trust (separate from the Department of Conservation) that aimed to rebuild the track using as many of the same techniques and materials as the original track layers did over a hundred years before them. He told me that they had chosen to use more modern means to install several bridges, using a Russian helicopter at an expense of NZD7,000 an hour over the course of a week. It was very interesting chatting to him and made the track a bit more interesting than it might have been otherwise.

Danika and Tom arrived just as I was leaving the track, and it was perfectly timed. We left Karamea, moving south towards the town of Westport where we were dropped Tom off so that he could get his bus back to Nelson. He had decided not to carry on with us, instead wanting to get some work in Nelson and then maybe continue his travels when he had a bit more funds.

We stopped for some food at the supermarket, and Westport looked like a thoroughly dismal place in the rain. It had briefly crossed ourminds to stay here but we were glad to have avoided the place. We said goodbye to Thomas and Danika and I set off to our next destination, to the small settlement of Punakaiki.

It rained for most of the trip but we were astonished to see the power of the Tasman Sea, the waves rushing in and crashing against the shoreline. It was the roughest water I have ever seen, and it was absolutely chruning it up. I couldn't imagine much surviving in there and there was no sign of any kind of boats or evidence of fishing. We arrived at the 'Te Nikau Retreat' to find a very warm and welcoming place. There were no free dorm beds available that night, so we took a twin room with ensuite for about ten bucks each more, and were glad to have a bit more comfort, especially as it had started to bucket down outside.

I took the opportunity to do some more updating of my journal, made dinner and just enjoyed being indoors, away from what seemed to be a storm that was only going to get worse. Thankfully, this new hostel was slightly warmer than 'Rongo' where we had stayed the previous two nights.


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