Our visit to Mount Cook was definitely way too short. I could have easily stayed there longer, do a few more hikes, but you know, there is also something almost charming in leaving a place at the moment you enjoy it the most.
The next day we continued towards Greymouth, a full day of driving. As mentioned earlier one of the great things about traveling to NZ with a toddler is the multitude of playgrounds on the road. In between the raindrops we stopped at some playgrounds.
The Pancake Rocks-Punakaiki
We booked another room at a Top10 Holiday Park for 2 nights. The next day, we headed to Punakaiki for the famous Pancake Rocks and Blowholes (around 40 minutes drive). The scenery this time was completely different. From the shades of yellow and turquoise around Mount Cook to beautiful grey hues. New Zealand is endlessly beautiful!
The pancake layering look of the limestone, the sea bursting through several vertical blowholes, the mystery surrounding these formations make the Pancake Rocks definitely worth a visit. Besides the magnificent look of the rock formation are the blowholes which you can hear before you see them. If you go during high tide the blowhole is the most spectacular. The trail takes about 20 minutes and is stroller accessible. We did not bring ours since our little one enjoyed walking around. A bit cliché but of course we had pancakes at the Pancake Rocks Café.
Shantytown Heritage Park
Our next stop was the Shantytown Heritage Park. I just love open air museums that reflect how people used to live in the past. I visited a few in Europe and thought that this would be fun for the whole family.
We started with a trip on the train with steam locomotive into the woods.
Then we tried out the gold panning (small extra fee payable at the entrance).
We discovered the village with its church, school, post office, hospital, bank, photographers shop, bank, shoe shop, carpenter, butcher, Masonic Lodge, fire station.
We played at the playground.
Given that we arrived late in the afternoon and the park closes at 5pm we could not get our old time photo 🙂 and the King Dick’s café was already closed. There were hardly any people when we went which made the streets of the village lovely.
We rounded up this day with a visit to the Hokitika Beach. This is a wonderful rugged beach with a lot of bleached driftwood, pebbles and a stone armchair in front of the Hokitika sign where everyone passing by takes pictures. A dramatic and laid-back scenery perfect to end our stay on the Southern Island of New Zealand.