Day 9 – Swing Bridges & Pancake Rocks

The 9th day of our adventure and the half way point already. We are seeing so much but the time is just flying by. Today started with Bob at our accommodation cooking us bacon and eggs and us chatting for ages. A real interesting bloke who greeted us last night with all the house rules and a warning that if there was an earthquake we shouldn’t worry unless it lasted more than 4 seconds, in which case get out the house quick lol. After far too many stories we finally said goodbye and went for a quick look around the town, Havelock. Its a very quiet town but not a bad place to stay for exploring the Marlborough region which we will be doing next time we come.

Once again we hot the road but only for 20 mins until we came to Pelorus Bridge. This is basically a big road bridge with a cafe and lots of short walks around. We chose the one with a swing bridge which i had no intention of going across. It actually felt very sturdy and not only did i go across it, i came back across running. Never thought that would happen as im a bit scared of heights especially when what im is moving. Another 40 minutes on the road and we hit Nelson, yes thats right Nelson, only this one wasnt a small little town that had seen better days but a huge city that was clean, tidy and thriving. I knew it was a city but never imagined that it was so big, it took around 30 mins to drive through it. We did stop for a while to take in the amazing cathedral, South Street which is the oldest street there and has been kept looking the same through the decades, and to have lunch at a lovely little cafe. I gotta admit if i was ever to live in New Zealand this would be high on my list of potential towns to move to.

From here we drove down to Murchison which was meant to be just a coffee break but ended up us walking around this town that looked like it had gone back in time. An old stables had been converted into a huge shop called Dust and Rust selling anything old like a 1920’s telephone, various cameras from pre war days. Basically if you had this when growing up it would be in here. Really was a superb trip down memory lane and well worth the stop.

Next up and just down the road from Marchison was another swing bridge. This one was 60m high and spanned 110m across the River Buller which we had been following for around 100km. It was in fact the longest swing bridge in New Zealand and still feeling proud of my earlier achievement i agreed to pay $10 to go across. Once you’ve done one they are all the same aren’t they?……….Holy crap no they aren’t. This was really high and long and it swung about loads more. Id paid though so i couldnt back out and once Linda had gone across i went for it. I was fine until i hit the middle and then i got a bit frightened but found that staring at the wooden rungs instead of looking at anything else helped and before i knew it i was over. Now there was a short 2km walk along the shore of the River Buller before it brought us back to the bridge. Yes thats right I had to bloody go back again didnt I lol. I made Linda go across first again and gave her my camera so she could take a picture of me in the middle to prove i had done it. Then another couple got on from the other end and so i had to wait as there was no way i was squeezing past them in the middle. After an age fo them taking pics they finally got over and off i went again. This time i was even worse and had proper jelly legs. But moaning all the way i did get there and I have the pictures to prove it. Two swing bridges in one day, feeling very proud of myself tonight.

Finally after another 120km we arrived at Punakaiki for our next stop over. The Beachfront Motel really is on the beachfront with waves lapping just 50ft from our room. We took a walk around the famous Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, named this due to the resemblance to a stack of pancakes caused by years of weathering. It wasn’t as amazing as id been lead to believe but interesting all the same. A walk along the beach with a sunset behind us was the perfect end to another wonderful day on this amazing country. Tomorrow we have a shorter drive down the coast for a walk alongside a glacier and a view of the Lake Matheson which is famous for its sunsets.