Punikaki, New Zealand
After driving 6 arduous hours on windy cliffside roads to Punikaki, we finally arrived to our hostel. We made ourselves comfortable at the Te Anu House in our cozy room. It was close to dinner time and we made a stop nearby to buy some groceries. It was busy in the kitchen as you would’ve expected around dinner but we were looking forward to meeting some new people.
It felt like a weird high school party where all the girls stood on one side and all the boys were on the deck. Avery hopped outside to meet the guys and I started cooking. While traveling, I have been trying to teach myself one of the most valuable skill sets I will ever learn: to start and make conversations with new people. And a hostel is the perfect place to do so.
I started making conversation with the girls and learned that they were American! To be honest, we didn’t come across a lot of Americans in New Zealand. Not sure if it’s because of the cost of the flight or the distance but I was eager to connect. We were both West Coasties and we bonded over the less-than-glamorous lifestyle of backpacking. I finally gave up on the hot water being able to properly boil on the electric stove and carried on with my pasta. It seemed Avery was making solid rapport with the new Aussie boys outside. They were from Sydney and we made plans to meet up in a few weeks. They were best friends camping through New Zealand on holiday. We finished our meal on the porch with the ocean breeze on our faces. I was extremely pleased with myself and my meal.
In the morning, we headed straight to the Pancake Rocks - Avery conveniently chose this hostel because of its proximity to the site. Unfortunately, we were going to miss high tide and it was raining. But we’ve been so blessed with good weather for most of our trip, that we were fine picking our battles. These rocks are old, okay? And I don’t mean a teenager calling a 40-year-old old. These guys are 30 million years old - the rocks are made of limestone and with the combination of lime-rich fragments of dead sea creatures, mud and clay, and earthquakes, these rocks organically became what they are today. From a metaphorical standpoint, it’s pretty incredible. When the tide is high, the waves crash into the rocks and splash and shoot right up to the sky just like blowholes. I recommend going at high tide for this effect but even when it’s rainy, it’s still really majestic.
Obviously, there is a café 100m from the entrance that sells pancakes. Meh. I’ve seen better pancakes on a Saturday morning after a sleepover in New Jersey.