Coast to Coast

Greymouth Travel Blog

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Sunshine & cold clear skies provided an early blessing. The Tranzalpine train made its way from Christchurch on the east coast to Greymouth, sitting on the west coast. I boarded at 7.00am and had an incredible four and a half hours, enjoying the magic scenery over the 224km travelled. I paid for a seat but screw sitting indoors, it was straight to the open air carriage where the wind chilled my body as the sun shone down with warmth. Feeling the elements made each moment that more special. Where sitting indoors provided the smell of fabric and still air, outdoors brought the aroumas of nature, the cold yet pleasant country air and the noise of the train rattling along the rails. The start of the journey was purely through the plains and farmland of Canterbury which was tame and sharply contrasting with the gorges and river valleys which suddenly exploded into view, seemingly stopping time for a brief moment, my camera forgotten and my mind numb with the all too sudden magic of what was before me. Rivers of an impossible blue etching a course deep below banks of green. Then minutes after witnessing such spectacular scenery, the train was climbing into the misty mountains of the southern alps, plunging in and out of dark tunnels and crossing viaducts before reaching the other side and falling into lushious green rainforest. The contrast was incredible and my eyes, as if tired from trying to take in all the wonders seen, drooped as we arrived to the seaside town of Greymouth. An afternoon snooze was in order and by 4pm i was ready to explore the town. The hostel provided a free bike, albeit a very rickety rackety bike. The sky began to cloud over as i bought some cheese and bacon rolls along with an ice coffee. I made my way through the town, with was quiet and sleepy with an easy going atmosphere and friendly locals, often called ¨coasters¨ due to their friendliness and hospitality. It has a population of less than 10,000 which accounts for over 30% of the entire west coast. The westcoast is very much isolated and i have been now often told that it the soul of the way New Zealand used to be. I past along a battered beach with a dark rugged beauty. The sea lashed against the sands which were littered with drift wood and pebbles. A few lone walkers made their way along the beaches edge, walking their dogs which ran happily in the wind. I rode my bike along a path sitting atop a strip of dark wet rocks that extended the land beyond the beach and further out into the sea. The wind was howling and harsh, waves crashed into the rocks and the clouds moved fast overhead, but i loved it. If it´s stormy it´s great. I just sat and watched nature move before continuing on bike by the coastline, along deserted roads and past beautiful farm houses settled in green. It was so quiet and empty, and for a fair few kilometre i only saw activity infront of one house where the children rode their horses with their father across the paddock. I came to the roads end with was the beginning of a walk at the lands point. I walked through forest as i ascended to the top of the hill before being greeted with clearing skies, gorgeous views of the coastline and the rocks which stretched into the seemingly endless sea. I walked around the point and managed to push myself through dense bush to the cliffs edge where my eyes were met with even more stunning views. A lovely bay, bathed in sunshine, still with that rugged beauty and a small town laying low in the distance by the sand. It´s strange to see such beauty, that is not in a harsh environment but is so empty. The sun was getting low so i returned on the path, running and jumping on the bike before peddling back into Greymouth. I lost myself momentarily but ended up by chance by a very pretty section of beach. The sky was now mostly clear but with scattered cloud. A perfect recipe for a beautiful sunset. Two 4x4 vehicles had pulled up by the sand to watch the day pass into night and a handful of people walked or settled themselves on the beach and turned their heads to the horizon. Quickly, an extrodinary mixture of rich colours were sprayed across half the sky, the sun turning distance clouds the color pink and burning those that were closer, making the edges glow a shimmering red and orange. I have seen and described so many sunsets during my travels, yet they continue to affect me so deeply. Each one seems different and i don´t think they will ever stop being utterly beautiful. I made my way back to the rocky extension where the colors of the sunset were intensifying and the wind was picking up. By the beaches edge, a small group of what seemed like traveller/gypsy type people were cooking meals over gas stoves, drinking and chatting merrily while their laundry, pegged up on washing lines attached between two battered vans, flapped wildly in the strong winds. The sea was rough and the heavy waves moved quickly towards the beach where the water crashed, spreading out across the pebbles before sharply drawing back, creating this crazy beautiful sound. Another sight which added to the magic of the moment were the clouds of spray being created as the gusty wind brushed off the tips of the dark waves. It was pretty spectacular, incredible...all of that, and i was insanely happy as i rode hard against the wall of wind, through the quiet streets, the dark skies behind me and the dense selection of rich sunset colours beyond the the roads end in the distance.
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photo by: Mezmerized