When we leave Westport, we’ve got to decide if we want brunch in an hour. We’ll be visiting the Pancake Rocks, and the café directly opposite does a Stray pancake deal for $10 (usually costs about $17). Sounds like a good deal to me, so I’m signing up.
Sadly, despite the café getting prior warning, they are biblically slow at serving us. It takes 20 minutes for me to be served, and one girl had to get hers as takeaway in order to see the rocks (considering we were here for 50 minutes, that’s crazy). It’s very slow serious, even if the pancakes themselves are delicious.
Their namesakes can be found across the road on a hill walk. All the limestone has been eroded to create this strange layered rock effect – scientists still aren’t quite sure what caused it. They’re very cool to see – especially the blow hole which reminds me of the one I saw in Tasmania.
Our next stop is a few hours later in Greymouth, and serves as both a lunch and supply stop. Along the way, Lolly has arranged for a secret Santa ‘costume’ party in 2 nights. Basically, we put our names into hats, pick a name out, and create a costume for that person. I’ve both lucked out and failed in getting the name of someone I know. She’s only gotten on the bus today so don’t know a lot about here, but hope she’s up for a laugh.
I end up being a little over-ambitious and have to discard a few plans when I can’t find stuff- but eventually I hunt down crepe paper and decided I shall make a parrot! Gonna take some time, but I’m psyched to try.
Around 1:45, we have our final stop before Franz Josef – a small building known as The Bushman’s Museum, run by Bushman Pete.
This is a small museum dedicated to the ‘old’ way of life during the era of New Zealand’s ‘Last Great Adventure,’ where hunters would go capturing deer in the wild in order to bring them into domestic farms.
(Essentially, deer were introduced and became a major hazard to the bush due to numbers. Hunters were allowed call them, and eventually used helicopters to shoot and transport them. It was so successful, that there was nearly no deer left, and they took to bringing the deer in alive to begin farming them).
There’s a video you can watch for $4, and that also gets you into the exhibit area, mostly sporting furs and new clippings. However, you can also feed eels and a possum, as they’re on display as well.
When we finally left the building, we were still distracted by the deer outside, as one of them had an adorable baby with them. People had to be dragged onto the bus.
It’s about 90 minutes before we make it to Franz Josef, and the mountains are full of mist. It’s very pretty, but also very wet.
The first stop is the Ice Glacier Tour building, since those of us doing the Ice Explorer need to confirm. We got signed up…but were warned the weather looks as if we won’t be able to make it. As if to hammer that fact home, it starts raining as we drive into the Rainforest Retreat. Here, we get taken into the bar for introductions, and then must run to our rooms to avoid the rain.
Considering the rooms are $34 a night, they’re kind of cramped. The bottom bunks also don’t have a lot of head room – but are extremely soft.
There’s no real plan for tonight. Lolly had thought about doing a Christmas party, but with the secret Santa coming up, nobody seemed in the mood. A few people headed to the bar, while I started work on my costume. I’m putting in WAY too much effort and cutting out a ridiculous number of feathers, but it’s been so long since I got to make anything I can’t bring myself to stop.
Once the main frame is done and the wings are feathered, I dress up and mingle at the bar for a bit before calling it a night. Weather is still awful, but fingers crossed for tomorrow.