Again it was time to get hold of a relocation rental car deal. I had thought about taking the bus to Queenstown and then getting a car back as that is the direction in which they are available. It was not to be this time though. When I looked at the beginning of January there were cars available every day. When I looked again in the third week in January there was nothing available until mid February! That gave me the choice of Greymouth or Nelson and as I had just been up to Nelson I chose Greymouth. When I left Christchurch it was raining, which for this years vacation was the first day I had encountered it. However, the three kilometer walk to the airport where I picked up the little Toyota Yaris soaked me through to the skin and wet all my clothes in my rucksack. Once I was about 20km to the west of Christchurch the rain stopped abruptly and the sun came out. The temperature as I approached the west coast soared to around 30C and all my stuff that was spread out on the back seat of the car quickly dried off.
On the way out of Christchurch I drove along the Old West Coast Road in order to pick up the eight monthly spelling challenge caches that I qualified for, the first one being January Spelling Challenge. I remember well the first time I found a cache along that road. It was Moneydork’s Yellow Submarine, the first submersed cache I found, and yes it was yellow. The year was 2007.
One of the attractions of the west coast from a geocaching perspective is a fairly new power trail with the title (first cache in the series) Know When to Hold ‘Em ( – 2 of Hearts). It was a series of 52 traditionals and four mysteries, one for each suite of cards. I had worked out that the caches would be on the left side of the road in the direction of travel which meant that I would have to go round the car each time. I decided to start from the far end which meant that the caches were on the drivers side albeit across the road. It worked out fine although six of the caches had gone AWOL so I didn’t bother doing the mysteries as they were dependent on picking up clues amongst the tradional caches. The 32 km trail took med 5 ½ hours which was plenty enough for me.
Know When to Hold ‘Em power trail to the east and the Greymouth walkway series on the coast
My Yaris rental car and the nine of clubs on the Know When to Hold ‘Em power trail
A big fat pigeon dropped a load just next to me. :-(
Seen on the Know When to Hold ‘Em power trail. I think this guy is an electrician
I followed the Grey River down to the Brunner mine where I stopped to do the earthache Brunner’s Black Gold. It was fascinating to think that the coal mine was so large in it’s heyday. Very little remains 120 years on but it’s worth remembering what it had done for the area.
Brunner mine bridge
Brunner mine. Bridge over River Grey
Even Greymouth itself is presumably a shadow of it’s former self. The stop banks are witness to the flooding of recent years but no more large ships find their way to the quays and coal is taken by train to Lyttelton. I looked at the remains of the old railway bridge and wondered how it had managed to stay in place for so long. It didn’t look at all safe.
Remains from the coal loading from early last century
Greymouth harbour inactivity – remains of coal cranes
Greymouth harbour activity
The day after the power trail I felt more in need of a walk so after dropping off the Yaris at the Station/i-Site/car rental company I walked west out of Greymouth centre picking up caches on the way.
Tribute to the West Coast Miners unveiled in 2011
The colorful West Coast Watsonia – a kind of iris that is bountiful here
View north to the mouth of the River Grey. Although peaceful now really bad storms hit the coast.
Gold mining in the 1800’s
A visit to Greymouth has to include a brewery tour
As I was waiting for the bus the Trans Alpine Express train came into the station and I regretted not looking more into the cost for returning to Christchurch by train instead of the bus. Now afterwards I see that the train costs 199 NZD as opposed to the bus’ cost of 52 NZD so I made the right choice.
Old bridge remains over the River Grey
Transalpine Express approaching Greymouth station