After two weeks of farm work, Barret and I were ready to rest our rash-covered forearms and what better way to relax than by looking at rocks? They’re certainly easier on the eyes than severed lamb tails. The South Island has lots of rocks, so make sure you pick the best when you’re ready for some vacation time.
The first site worth visiting is not only 30 million years old, but it also has ocean front property. The spectacular Pancake Rocks look even better than they sound (and probably better than they taste too). The namesake layered appearance is due alternating soft and hard layers, however that works. Apparently a detailed explanation was too long for the informational sign. What I do know is that the blowholes make the limestone rocks even cooler. If your visit coincides with high tide, huge spurts burst out of the rocks as if a whale were trapped below.
Since Barret and I didn’t wake up by 6AM, we missed the most active time. However, as we walked down a staircase fit for a life-size sandcastle, we saw an explosion of white foamy mist. It was the last big burst of the morning and, just before it dissipated, it looked like a bridal veil suspended in the breeze.
Further inland is Castle Hill, which as you might guess, sits upon a hill. Not even a king could have picked a more beautiful location though. The group of enormous boulders overlook a vast tussock and pasture-covered valley. With the exception of a few homes and working farms, the terrain was as open as the sky.
The tertiary limestone boulders are not only a habitat for some of the rarest plants in Canterbury, but they are popular for rock climbers. Equipment rental shops offering cushioned pads are just a short drive to the south. The large thick mats are carried like a backpack, which kind of made the climbers look like bipedal turtles.
Barret and I were in hardcore relaxation mode, however, so there would be no clambering. In fact the fastest pace we reached was due to a gust of wind. And you know what, some days that just feels right.
How to get to the Pancake Rocks & Blowholes: State Highway 6, Punakaiki, New Zealand
How to get to Castle Hill: West Coast Road 73, Castle Hill, Canterbury, New Zealand