Thursday, 3 February 2011

TransAlpine Railway to Greymouth - Feb 3rd

A very early start today to catch the train, but well worth it for the fantastic scenery en route! The train line goes up through the Alps and alongside rivers that change character at every turn. There was no snow, or only very small patches viewed in the distance, but there was a very chilly wind especially on the top. There was an open viewing carriage, for the hardy photographers among us, but others preferred to view the scenery from the warmth of our seats. Hardly anyone lives at these heights now, and only coal miners, gold prospectors and loggers in the past, but there is an entire village for sale near the top if you have a million NZ dollars to spare.
In Greymouth we collected our car, had lunch and set off up country to Cape Foulwind, just west of Westport. On the journey we again saw some stunning craggy scenery and stopped for a half hour walk round the Pancake rock viewing area. Isn’t nature just brilliant, the way these bizarre geological phenomenon occur.
Ros and Mac were only just off Fox Gacier and too far away to meet up today but we are meeting tomorrow at Reefton.
Our B&B (The Steeples) is beautiful, right on the edge of the cliff tops and has a brilliant garden with views out over the sea and rocks beyond. We walked up to the lighthouse from where you could see the coast all around and the seal colony in the distance. Supper in the local pub owned and run by the sister of our hostess, really friendly welcoming people all, and we met a couple from Madrid!
Have been very struck by the ‘wild’ plants here, where tree ferns and phormium grow like weeds everywhere and hydrangeas, crocosmia and agapanthus are almost as rampant and you get patches of wild lilies in the most unexpected places. Almost everything is very familiar, lots of yarrow and clover, self heal and alyssum. Very lovely it is too.   Photos here.

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