Jan 07

Day 15: Lake Rotoiti, GPS troubles and Punakaiki Rocks

by in Accommodation NZ, New Zealand Travel, Sightseeing NZ

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Our destination today was Hokitika, on the West Coast of the South Island.

After picking up the new rental car (a 2009 Ford Falcon XR6) we drove past wine country for a while. The Marlborough region is home to several great grapes and wineries.

Lake Rotoiti

The Nelson Lakes National Park near St Arnaud is home to Lake Rotoiti, not to be confused with its namesake near Rotorua in the North Island. We stopped for a rest and watched families having a great time on the water. The photo below doesn’t do justice to the beauty of this spot.

Lake Rotoiti

Lake Rotoiti in the South Island

GPS issue

We set the Garmin 1390T GPS to take us to Punakaiki Rocks. It didn’t know this well-known attraction, so we selected a petrol station in Punakaiki on State Highway 6. However, as the destination got closer, the GPS was telling us to turn left towards Reefton when a road sign told us to turn right. We trusted the sign and turned right.

The time estimate it gave us was useless because it kept telling us to take a U-turn most of the way and was calculating a longer route. When we reached the Punakaiki Rocks at 7:30 pm, there were just a couple of souvenir shops, which had closed earlier and a single toilet. There were more toilets, but they had been locked up for the night. Very kind of them to leave one open!

The route

Google Maps link. The discrepancy occurred at Inangahua Junction, where we chose to continue along SH6 instead of  taking the Garmin 1390T’s advice to turn left and take SH69 and then SH7. That would have taken us to Greymouth and then we’d have to drive north — a much longer route.

The rocks look like they were carved from stone pancake stacks. We didn’t see the spectacular blowholes in action as it wasn’t high tide, but the crashing waves provided a decent sample of what it must be like.


Punakaiki pancake rocks


The coastline near Punakaiki

WhereIs Maps

Sensis WhereIs powers the maps for the GPS, so it needs to send a mapping car to NZ to update the data and increase the points of interest (POIs). For most of the South Island portion of the trip so far, the GPS has either no speed limit data, or it is wrong — mostly telling us that the limit is slower than it is or suggesting an illegal right turn.

Greymouth to Hokitika

We had dinner at The Coal Face in Greymouth. This region has coal deposits and is home to the recent Pike River mine disaster, so many shops have a mining theme. The Coal Face offers most of its main courses on a 400°C slab of stone that heats the meat as you want it. The food was tender but it took a very long time to be served and the place was barely half full. Don’t go there here for dinner if you are in a hurry to get somewhere as far as Hokitika.

Hokitika arrival

We reached the Beachside Motel at 9:25 pm and almost missed the caretaker who had given up waiting for us. The room was a big improvement over the SilverOaks on Thorndon.

Here is our review on TripAdvisor.com.

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