I woke to the sound of surf, and stretched cat-like in my double bed — enjoying the snap, crackle, pop of my spine as my vertebrae realigned themselves. One week of sleeping in my car had taken its toll, and I was enjoying the comfort of my room at the Punakaiki Beach Hostel. The previous day had been a long one, but I was eager to explore the area and see the famous Pancake Rocks of Punakaiki.
Be thou the rainbow in the storms of life. The evening beam that smiles the clouds away, and tints tomorrow with prophetic ray.” – Lord Byron
After breakfast, I drove a short distance to the start of the Truman Track, a 1.5 km walk through native bush to a beautiful stretch of beach. The sand was coarse and made for poor footing, and granules of it poured through the holes in my shoes. I worked my way past a small waterfall, which hurled itself from the cliff above and disappeared beneath the sand. The sandflies swarmed thickly about me, so I ducked into a large cave for shelter. It worked for a while, and I crouched in the sub-darkness and watched the breakers roll in.Eventually, the blood-suckers found me, and I beat a hasty retreat back to the car. The next stop was the Pororari Track, which I would combine with a leg of the Inland Pack Track to make a three hour loop. The walk along the river was serene — nikau palms and tree ferns crowded the river as limestone karsts loomed overhead.
The Pancake Rocks of Punakaiki are limestone formations created by the sea and shaped by the wind and waves. The process is ongoing, as evidenced by the surf pouring through gaps in the cliff to blast upwards.
Gazing out to sea was like looking at a cross section of history — each layer of rock a different piece of time distilled, compressed, and preserved.
“It’s a loop track… either way you like!”
“But which way is the exit?”
I looked at them — firm in their conviction that there was but one way out; that they would be lost of they didn’t find it — and sighed.
Another alcove off the trail revealed a view back over the rocks. The weather was changing, and a dark front of clouds loomed in the distance. Light refracted on the rain and the sea spray, and a magnificent rainbow took form. It stretched from land to sea, and I snapped a few pictures before putting my camera away.
Sometimes, a camera is a distraction. Sometimes, you need to imprint a scene in your memory…
…but really, who could forget a view like that?
How about you? What’s a place you’ve been where you felt the need to put away your camera and take it all in? Share your story in the comments below!