Blog // Tales from the trail

01 Feb
2016

Cape Foulwind and the Start of the West Coast, New Zealand

By Corallie

The Route

The Gold Route!

The Gold Route!

Route stats:

  • Total distance - 50 km (with the to-ing and fro-ing)
  • Time taken ~ all day
  • No. Seal colonies found - 1
  • No. Lighthouses - 1
  • No. ice-creams consumed - 2
  • Hills - 2(ish)

The Deal

Having gotten myself into a spot of... pure mortification, by shouting my mouth off about someone I frankly didn't know (lesson learned, until the next time I imagine!) I was in a contemplative mood leaving Westport on what was a beautifully cloudless day. We had decided to head to the coast and take the scenic route to Charleston, the next town en-route of our tour of the West Coast. Our first stop less than 15 km away, the magnificent Cape Foulwind, so named by James Cook in 1770 because of the raging 'foul winds' that blew the Endeavour far out to sea during some particularly torrid weather. Our experience however, was quite the opposite.

Introduction to Cape Foulwind - off to a good start on the West Coast

Introduction to Cape Foulwind - off to a good start on the West Coast

No whisper of a breeze, let alone a foul wind

No whisper of a breeze, let alone a foul wind

Those rocks might have kept James Cook up at night

Those rocks might have kept James Cook up at night

We couldn't have wished for a clearer day, which warranted a walk down the meandering path to the beach and a quick zip around the lighthouse. A walking path takes you along the coastline from the lighthouse to the next bay where the seals swim. We, however, used our favourite mode of transport to pedal round.

Wildlife hanging out

Wildlife hanging out

Lighthouse coastal path

Lighthouse coastal path

No exaggeration, we were yearning for a 'fush&chup' fix that we hadn't appeased in Westport - it was the lambchops' fault. All of them. We had read about a top spot in Cape Foulwind that we were most excited about, however it wasn't meant to be as we skidded to a halt and spied the sign - 'Closed on Mondays'. Fiddlesticks is the polite word. So what better way to console ourselves than to move to the second item on our list of things to do in the picturesque Cape Foulwind and go and find some seals. We cycled back around the bay passing the surf schools hard at 'work' on the beach, and woke up the ice cream lady (snoozing in her van) for a scoop of Hokey Pokey before going to find the local seal colony. Yessssssssss. We were winning again.

Not a bad day to be in (surf) school

Not a bad day to be in (surf) school

Looking across the bay

Looking across the bay

Spying the signs to the Department of Conservation walkway, we were soon at the viewing point, perfectly placed to watch the fur seal pups having a ball in the rock pools, mums and dads sunning themselves on the rocks and generally trying to avoid being harassed. Lovely, just lovely, to see and hear (and smell) the wildlife in their native surroundings.

Cape Foulwind

Cape Foulwind's fur seal colony

Seal dad (or mum) avoiding harrassment

Seal dad (or mum) avoiding harrassment

Pups at play

Pups at play

Still absolutely fixed on 'fush&chups' for lunch it was lucky that the other local pub did a mean fish burger and pint and coincidentally, the proprietor was originally from Chester - cue nostalgic chat of the North West, UK. Whilst a delicious stop, we were somewhat sluggish for the rest of the afternoon and our ride onto Charleston took a rather leisurely pace. As it was there wasn't much to see en route, not even a petrol station.

The long road to Charleston

The long road to Charleston

Good job we weren

Good job we weren't relying on fuel

The afternoon stretched out like the road ahead of us with a few undulating hills along the way until quite an evil spike right at the end woke us up a bit. Charleston, a gold rush town in the mid 1800s doesn't have much to it - blink and you'll almost miss it (on the surface at least; there are adventures to be had underground). But there is a campsite which was welcome after the warm day. We managed a quick stroll to the pretty, local beach before fighting off sandflies so it was back to the campsite for showers, dinner and bed for the sprouts. It was a clear night and we were treated to our very own gold rush - in the night sky. Being so free of light pollution, the Milky Way burned, blazed through the dark navy, and as we fell into a slumber, the bubbly campsite owner's words ran nervously through my head: 'I'd say it's more than a grunt to Punakaki'; the famed natural wonder of, Pancake Rocks, and tomorrow's (grunt) adventure.

Evening beach stroll in Charleston

Evening beach stroll in Charleston

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