Feb 12, 2008

It's a Puzzling World: New Zealand part four

Posted by Tom |

On New Year's Eve (also my 32nd birthday) we hiked out a few miles along the Hollyford Track, a flat and pleasant trail off of the Milford Road. We spent the night in a backcountry cabin on the track, and it was the first time in a good two decades that I fell asleep before midnight.
None of this, of course, is necessary to appreciate the above photo, which stands on its own merits.

We left Fiordland after the kayak trip (Jan 2-3) and drove up the very empty west coast of the south island for a couple of days. Our most eventful stop en route was clearly Puzzling World, a rather silly theme park which featured a giant outdoor maze. We managed to find our way out in about 38 minutes, which I think is better than average, though Mary repeatedly chastised me for cheating. Hey, it's not my fault the partitions are only six feet tall and easily glanced over.

Puzzling World was also memorable for its various optical illusion rooms. One of them had walls that were translucent, backlit inverted busts of folks like Nelson Mandela and Abe Lincoln, which had a supremely eerie effect of following you around the room. They had Nelson Mandela inverted heads for sale in the gift shop, which were too expensive to justify Mary buying one as a Jell-o mold.

We spent a couple of nights staying in the coolest hostel ever in Punakaiki, midway up the west coast: our room was a "stargazer," a small hut with a mattress in the middle and a transparent roof. It was awesome. We were in Punakaiki to hike the Inland Pack Track, a two-day journey that leads through a majestic landscape of high limestone cliffs. The only route between said cliffs, however, was a riverbed, which meant we forded the river, by my count, about 65 times. Good thing we brought sandals. Most were easy fords, and only twice did we have to hitch up our shorts and step gingerly to make it across.

This is the Ballroom, a giant rock overhang under which we spent the night on the Inland Pack Track. For scale, note my tent on the left and me in the middle. It's absolutely huge. Fortunately, it's also waterproof, because as soon as we got under it it started raining. We spent the second day of the Inland Pack Track hiking through an unrelenting downpour the whole way - then had to stand on the road, sopping wet to hitch a ride back to our car 12 miles away. We stood for maybe 45 minutes before I talked the driver of a campervan parked in a rest stop into giving us a ride.


Coldfoot said...

Nice pictures.