We had blue skies on the West Coast while Christchurch shivered under early winter rain.
As the weekend had approached, Honora and I mulled over options to fit the unpromising weather forecast. We agreed on Mt French and a base far west. Malcolm Carr kindly made available his family's bach at Lake Brunner. Sorted.
We headed over after lunch Saturday. The Nor'west still reigned at Iveagh Bay.
Morning sparkled with bright sunshine as we drove out along the lakeshore. However turning south dark clouds loomed ahead and rain briefly lashed the car as we passed along the foot of the Alexander Range. We parked at the start of the track to Mt French at the Eastern Hohonu River.
We agreed we weren't convinced of getting clear skies up on Mt French, and we both wanted an enjoyable day. So Mt French could wait another time. We left the stormy clouds behind on the ranges and headed up the coast in dazzling sunshine.
Honora had friends and memories to revisit at Punakaiki, north of Greymouth. And I'd never crossed the Grey, so it was all new country to me.
After visiting Honora's memory lane we drove on to Punakaiki. It was just after full tide when we got there so the blow-holes had past their best display. But I must admit I was more interested in the geology and landforms than in the maritime dramatics. DoC's visitor centre was a great place to get the big picture. Also the crafts gallery next door was well worth the visit. And we finished off our visit to the pancake rocks of Punakaiki, with pancakes for lunch at the cafe.
Heading south again we stopped at Rapahoe for a walk to Point Elizabeth. This became the highlight of the weekend.
The 2 km to the Point was a very pleasant meander through bush and flax dominated scrub. However there were strolling family groups and runners also on the track. We may have looked a bit overdressed to them in our tramping gear and carrying large tramping packs (to hold our snacks and bits and pieces).
On our way back from the Point Honora discovered a place where we could abseil down a cliff onto the beach. This made for a perfect circuit.
Earlier we'd been talking about walking up the beach from the carpark. However it had looked like it would be a dead-end.
In fact we did find a few dead things down there too - a large dead skate and even a dead cow. But Honora went fossicking among the rocks below the Point and came away with her prize - a good haul of very large mussels.
On the way home we called in at Paddy's for a meal. That worked out well too, as Trevor Scott and Richard Wills had just arrived there from their day's tramp over Little Jordan Spur. And then while we were having our meal Mike Plug walked in with friend Sheila. Bumping into them really made it a great finish to a sparkling weekend.