Day 9: Punakaiki to Motueka

The shell glows brilliantly like a prism, emitting every color of the rainbow. I hold it close to my chest, and it passes through my skin, absorbed by my heart. All of a sudden I am whisked upwards by that same unseen force, lifted to the surface of the water. 

When I emerge, it is nighttime. The sky drips with starlight. Auroras shimmer overhead in colors of green, blue, and red. Fireflies dance around me in their own shifting constellation of light. The air is warm, and a gentle breeze tugs at the water dripping down off of my skin. I am surrounded by prismatic, luminant resplendence no matter which way I look. 

The butterfly returns, itself glowing brightly and beautifully in the night air. It lands gently on my shoulder, and remains. I hold my hands out to my side, and turn my head upwards to the stars. I laugh, I cry, and finally, I open my eyes…

Dreams are fascinating, aren’t they? More thoughts on those another time. For now, Day 9.

Day 9 Route

Day 9

Distance Traveled: 290 km (Trip Total: 2399 km)

Before truly setting off this morning I stop by the “Pancake Rocks” that are just a couple hundred meters down the road from my hotel. They’re a unique rock formation right here on the coast caused by the unique build-up and erosion it’s experienced from the wind and sea.

IMG_0659-resizeThe stones have a distinct, stratified pattern to them that has taken millions of years to establish. The scalloped pattern is clearer than I expected, and everything feels very tangible in the clear morning air. One particular collection of spires looks like it has funneled wind in one direction for ages upon ages. I’m surprised the rocks are still here to admire.

IMG_0666-resizeSome long clusters of seaweed drift in the ocean below like long strands of hair.

IMG_0672-resizeThe little plaque I read indicates that this historic overlook was established in the 80’s, but the weathered and narrow stone walkways make me feel like I’m standing on top of an old castle wall.


There’s a very unique silhouette in the stones I come across next. Apparently, the Maori say it’s a bunch of animals having a feast. I can’t see it though. Can you?


The hike is soon over, and already I’m working up a sweat in the sunlight. Damn it Geo, why do you always go hiking wearing motorcycle gear and carrying a pile of shit with you?

The road out of Punakaiki is a fun windy coastal road like yesterday until it veers more inland into jungle territory again. For some time it weaves along the banks of the Buller River.


My Best Friend in The World ™, Bozlee, comments that I haven’t posted new pictures of the bike. Well, Boz… this one’s for you.

Are you happy now Bozlee? Will you ever be happy?  How far do we have to go before you're satisfied, you MADMAN!
Are you happy now Bozlee? Will you ever be happy? How far do we have to go before you’re satisfied, you MADMAN!

This was never about the bike, was it Bozlee? This is about you. You and your fruitless quest for meaning in a cruel and meaningless world. When will it end, Boz? When will you finally learn that it’s not the bike that makes the man…. it’s the man that makes the bike. The bike was inside us all along.

In any case, Olga’s doing just fine.

The road carries me by a tortuous bend in the river where the water currents shimmer irregularly between calm and turbulent flows.

IMG_0686-resize IMG_0688-resize

Not long after the bend I decide to detour just a bit to the town of Westport for food and a break from the bike. Riding almost every day hasn’t given my muscles enough time to come back to 100% and I’m basically just sore the whole day. Your tailbone is a part of your body you never pay attention to, until you sit on it day after day after day, then, you feel it.

As I work my way northeast, the terrain gets pretty forest-y, and the road weaves through hilly valleys occasionally scarred by mark of a paltry logging operation. I take some pictures at an overlook, and give my ass and legs another chance to rest.

IMG_0692-resizeWhere I turn left off of SH6 to head towards Motueka, I stop at a cafe for one last break and a soda before the final push to my destination.

Olga, you Bavarian whore! Get away from that American Hog this instant!
Olga, you Bavarian whore! Get away from that American Hog this instant!

I try to convince Olga to check out the polite English bike across the way, but she’s not interested. She likes the bad boys.

Olga, it's not the CC's, it's the motion of the ocean. C'mon.
Olga, it’s not the CC’s, it’s the motion of the ocean. C’mon. What about the creepy old Japanese bike? Will that do anything for you?

Another interesting fact about NZ is that many cafes, most in fact, seem to display works of art for sale. Either NZ has a vibrant arts community, or there’s simply such a surplus of artists about that there’s no other place to store their stuff. Here, rather than oil paintings there are some badass looking dragon sculptures on the wall.


The final leg of road takes me past fields of livestock and several vineyards. I don’t have any pictures because there weren’t really any turnouts and a BMW was riding my ass the whole time, but it was pretty.

After I check in at the motel and drink my complementary bottle of milk, I do laundry and watch cricket on TV while I wait for it to finish. The TV has 5 available channels, and 2 of them seem to be all cricket. It gets me thinking… could I snag a cricket game while I’m down here?

As it turns out the Wellington Firebirds play the Auckland Aces tomorrow in Wellington, my destination. I look up the boat schedules. If I want to make the start of the game, I need to catch the 8:00AM ferry, which is not feasible, but it’s cricket, so the game will go on for basically forever, until the end of time. If I catch the 10:30 ferry to Wellington I should have enough time to catch the last few hours of the game. Let’s do it! I name the mission Operation Flammenvogel, because everything is more intense in German.

Operation Flammenvogel will not be easy. I will need to not only plug in my clock. I will need to set the alarm. And not only will I need to set the alarm, but I will need to wake up and move my ass at an hour I’ve not moved my ass this entire trip: 6 AM. But cricket is worth the cost. The overs must be bowled. The wickets must be hit. And the batsman must shuffle about wearing hockey pads and swing the bat with a sort of half-hearted intensity that makes a man question whether or not they are really trying at all. It must be done. And then, there will be tea.

I’m going to try to make it an early night so I can actually go through with this. I hope you guys enjoyed the rather brief update today.

Go Patriots!


3 thoughts on “Day 9: Punakaiki to Motueka

  1. The Patriots won a beast of a game against the Ravens. Flacco was good but not perfect enough. 38-25 and we are on to the AFC championship! Go operation Flammenvogel!


  2. Ravens 14 7 7 3 31
    Patriots 7 7 14 7 35
    I loved the stratified scalloped rock monuments. Every bit as goo or better as seen in the American Southwest. You photography is to be envied. And Olga was looking at that blue touring bike with love in her eyes.


  3. Hahaha, what the heck is even up with those dragon sculptures? They’re so random, but awesome! I think this is an art movement we’re really missing out on.

    Gorgeous photography, as always : )


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