Hey guys! My New Zealand tales continue. In today’s post, I’ll tell you about my day in Punakaiki!
There’s not much to Punakaiki besides the Pancake Rocks. I only booked one day/night there and that was plenty. A hostel employee/local resident mentioned that the town has a population of 30 people but the Internet says that it has less than a population of 100. I think I’ll believe the local. Punakaiki is known for its pancake rocks and blowholes. Although rocks that look like pancakes didn’t really appeal to me, I was curious what all the hype was about. And I was right to be curious as the Internet says it took 30 million years to make the rocks look like pancakes.
(Oh, The Internet. I love you.)
The view was beautiful and I was happy that I made the stop. It took me about 20 minutes to walk around. I didn’t realize that it would be so quick. So walked around it again.
I picked up a bite to eat from the restaurant across the street as there were only two or three restaurants in town that were walking distance (40 minutes is walking distance!). When I arrived at the hostel, they didn’t offer free Wifi, which was disappointing as all of the other YHA Hostels in New Zealand that I stayed in offered free WiFi. I decided not to pay for WiFi (I could live without WiFi for one night!).
I booked a private room with two beds (I don’t know why it was cheaper… but still private). There was a big bed and a smaller bed. I took a nap in the big bed, and then went down into the kitchen. The hostel was built like a cozy lodge surrounded by bush. It looked very charming. There was only one problem.
When I walked into the kitchen I noticed a spider on the kitchen table just crawling about and I freaked out! I paid close attention to it as it walked very slowly. I also walked very slowly and accidentally bummed into the hostel’s cat, that I didn’t even noticed because SPIDER. I startled the cat and the cat started me. I let out a very girlish scream and the cat ran away. I looked around – my heart racing – and felt grateful that no one was around to see that.
Suddenly I became aware that the hostel was surrounded by bush. After living in Australia for a year and knowing that their spiders can poisonous, I was a bit alert as well in New Zealand even though there’s pretty much nothing in New Zealand that can kill you.
I tried not to think about it and went on the hunt for the beach where there would be a beautiful sunset that evening (recommended by the receptionist). There was only one problem. In order for me to get to this beautiful sunset, I had to walk through a narrow creepy wooded area.
As I approached this creepy wooded area, it just looked like a dead-end. It was dark and there were branches in my way and mud everywhere. It didn’t look like it’d guide me to a beach or to… anything. I turned around and decided to walk back to the hostel when three German girls came my way. They asked me if this was the way to the beach and I told them that it didn’t look like it led to anything. They decided not to listen to me and walk through the creepy woods. Silly girls. Silly, silly girls.
But maybe I was wrong, I thought as an English guy came along and walked pass me. He looked like he’d done this before. He walked with confidence. Creepy woods? Eh, no big deal.
“Hey!” I called out to him. He turned around. “Have you walked this before?”
“Uh, can I follow you?”
OK, so on a normal day I wouldn’t follow some random guy into a wooded area but this was New Zealand. Whatever. I wanted to see the sunset.
He showed me the way to the beach. But it wasn’t easy. I had jump over logs and duck under branches and step on wet mud.
“Be careful when you’re coming back because it’s dark and there’s no light here. My first night I got lost!”
That didn’t sound very pleasant. I didn’t even want to walk through the creepy woods in day light. He noticed my hesitation and said he’d walk back with me.
When we finally made it, took a seat on the steps and waited for the sunset. I learned that he worked as carpenter back home and he was taking a break to travel for a few months before going back to his life. The sun was beginning to set and I noticed the three German girls drinking beers ahead of us. It’s a good thing they didn’t listen to me.
The English guy asked me what my dream job would be and I think I said something along the lines of writing and traveling even though I’m not entirely sure what my “dream job” would be. He then confessed that he never really had a desire to be anything and found it interesting when he met people who have particular career goals. I thought it was interesting that he never wanted to be something. But it seemed like he knew how to enjoy life and not let creepy woods get in his way. He was in Punakaiki for three nights and this was his third attempt at seeing the sunset. The first two were rainy and cloudy and the sunset didn’t shine though. But the third attempt came out perfect.
This sunset was beautiful. And it was just my first and only attempt.
Yup, a spider.
I panicked. I didn’t know what to do! Do I go get someone like a big baby or do I handle the situation myself?
I walked down to the kitchen, grabbed a mug, walked back up to my room and trapped the spider underneath it. (Yes, I understand how cruel that was and I should probably get over this phobia, but at the time, I didn’t know what to do!) Then I slept on the smaller bed and by slept I mean I didn’t sleep at all because I kept thinking there were spiders crawling all over me.
One day in Punakaiki was more than enough! I have no idea how that English guy survived three days!
Have you ever been to Punakaiki? Or have a fear of spiders? Tell me about it!
(PS: my blog was recently hacked! I think I was able to fix the problem though. If you get any strange emails from me or see something off about the blog, please let me know!)