West Coast Again, May 21-25 2021: Days 2 & 3, Canterbury Open, Otira Café, Truman Track, Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, and Westland Petrel Colony

Posted by Patrick Lam on Saturday, June 19, 2021

Table Of Contents

Saturday, May 22 (gallery)

With NZ tournaments being an order of magnitude smaller than the Omnium du Québec, weigh-in only takes an hour in the morning across all categories for that day. I walked to the tournament site for 0745, weighed in at 0800, and then went to get breakfast at Zeroes Cafe.

Senior Men -66 at the Canterbury Open was a bit tougher than at the Wellington Open. I won my first match and bronze medal match, but not the semi-final. There was a pin that I had in the semi-final which could’ve been called, but oh well. That match went into golden score (overtime), which is tiring! MP showed up with a rental car in the afternoon and taped all of my matches, which I haven’t done in a very long time. I think I fought well, but clearly not quite well enough to win.

Podium, Senior Men -66, 2021 Canterbury Open.

After picking up my medal, we drove once again to the NZAC Arthur’s Pass Lodge, stopping by a grocery store to get $100 of groceries at FreshChoice along the way. Somehow I keep on going to the same places; I’d been to this mall before, but I can’t quite remember when. This time there was a COVID-19 Vaccination Centre at Barrington Mall which was not yet open to us.

COVID-19 Vaccination Centre at Barrington Mall, not yet open to me.

Once we arrived at Arthur’s Pass at 9pm (everything closed) we ate the ramen we’d purchased at FreshChoice. There were two other parties at the Lodge this time: a guy out for a day trip the next day, and a Scout Troop’s Patrol Leaders’ Camp. Interestingly, all of the PLs were girls, which would be rare for a Canadian Scout Troop.

Sunday, May 23: To the West Coast! (part 1), (part 2), (part 3)

Early starts are always difficult and once again we left at the crack of 9:30 after breakfast and vacuuming the lodge. Our breakfast was mostly the salad that we had bought the day before at the grocery store. Hey, got to eat it sometime! I had been thinking of the Pororari River – Bullock Creek Road track (5–6hr, 15km round trip) but we wouldn’t have time before the Westland Petrel tour, so we needed another plan.

Fifteen minutes later, we stopped at the Otira Café, which claimed that it was the “most interesting café in New Zealand”. I was skeptical, but this is indeed plausible! One latté, one pie, and many pictures later, we continued westwards to Greymouth.

Interesting indeed.

After passing through Greymouth and heading north (and mostly dropping off the map for mobile signal), I noticed a place to observe the Tasman Sea. It turned out to be a memorial to the Strongman coal mining disaster, a common theme on the South Island’s West Coast. There were also good beach views.

OK, but now it's 2021. Are we over coal yet? Also, penguin crossing and West Coast beach.

We then stopped by at the Paparoa National Park Visitor Centre conveniently located across the street from the Punakaiki Rocks. The ecologist ranger Steve first suggested the Pororari River Track, especially given that mushrooms were particularly active now. But, if we were afraid of hiking something twice (it’s the start of the Paparoa Great Walk), we were at the right time to see reef stars in the intertidal zone at the Truman Track.

Low tide on the Truman Track: reef stars, gull mealtime, punchbowl.

Having seen all the reef stars we could before the tide came back, we stopped by the Punakaiki Cavern before seeing the most popular Pancake Rocks for golden hour.

Punakaiki Cavern (not the exit), plus the Pancake Rocks (including its Rorschach test).

Finally, we went on a Westland petrel/tāiko tour with Denise of Petrel Colony Tours. Her husband Bruce had built a whole bunch of boardwalk infrastructure to facilitate tours, quite impressive. We saw some petrels flying back to their nets and one in its nest, but were told that December would be more certain for petrel sightings.

Petrel coming in, and petrel-in-a-box (alas, focus is hard).

Next day was Mount French, our hike for the month.