Up at 8am and breaking down camp is how VNTRbirds started their second day on the South Island. Oliver, being a boy scout for half his life taught the birds how to roll up a tent correctly so it will always fit in the bag again. The only down side to the morning was there were bugs EVERYWHERE. Little nats were by the tent, chasing after the birds and Oliver, and unfortunately in the car because one window was left open. Continuously spraying bug spray everywhere and on everything, TUB &O decided to take a break from the bugs to clear out and do a mini-morning hike around the site’s Walkway. The Walkway started going downhill then flattened out once it reached the river. The river wasn’t very wide, but it was extremely soothing. Tossing in rocks that lined it, TUB &O enjoyed playing around.

Continuing on, there was a big iron structure, supporting the tunnel where the river ran through. With a big sign stating “DANGER: Keep off Structure” naturally the first thing TUB did was climb right up. Being higher, the girls and Oliver could see downstream. Some beautiful pictures later, the trio was back on a trail in the woods. After about 40minutes into the hike, they realized it wasn’t a loop and they were being lead farther and farther away from their car. Needing to head off to start the day and drive to Greymouth, TUB &O turned around, repeated the above then jumped in the car. Today, Jaime would be driving so Kelley took the advantage of playing with her fellow bird’s camera.


On their way down the West Coast of the South Island, the ocean was in sight. Stopping to search out penguins and to cool their feet, TUB &O spent some time with the ocean. Climbing on fallen trees, drawing in the sand and running away from the incoming waves, the trio were all smiles. Oliver claims he needs to put his feet in every ocean; halfway there O! After cleaning off their feet from sand and such, VNTRbirds and Oliver were back in the car.


Another stop soon came when this crew reached Punakaiki. Also not on the original itinerary, but who could miss the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes ?! Parking at the Visitors’ Center, everyone quickly grabbed a snack and their cameras and headed off. Walking through the stone entrance to the lookouts the trio was excited. They heard about Punakaiki at the DOC office in Wellington just before they left for the South Island and boy, was it a sight to see. These ‘pancake rocks’ look exactly like their title! With the towering formations all layered, looked as if they were separate rocks stacked on top of each other, TUB &O were very impressed with nature’s talents.  Reading up on one of the information boards along the walk, the rocks were formed by the waves of the ocean knocking out limestone causing erosion. The walk was about an hour and a half, but took the birds and O about two because they had to stop and climb and oogle.


Coming around one of the bends the ocean was now a part of the amazement. Watching the water spray up towards TUB with each wave increased the entertainment. With every turn there was a new canal formed by the water crashing against the rocks. Some of the towering stones even ended with shapes of people and other creatures. Most of the rocks were smooth and Kelley found a nice stone throne. After climbing the last of the pancake rocks, TUB returned to the road, but couldn’t leave without some postcards to send back home to make friends and family jealous.
Before leaving, TUB &O ran into a fellow TEAN Study Abroad student, Shelby, who was taking her South Island vacation with a tour, Kiwi Experience. New Zealand really is a small country.


Back on the road, there was only one more pit stop before the third hike of the day and that was to find some utensils. With avocados and kiwi fruit, one needs at least a spoon. Stopping at a local ice cream stand Jaime hopped out to ask for three spoons and maybe a couple knives. Unfortunately, the employee wasn’t too keen on giving up her plastic spoons and only gave Jaime one. The search continued.
Passing into Shantytown just outside of Greymouth, Oliver and the birds stopped at the Woods Creek Hike to go explore some old gold mines from the gold rush! The hike started off as all the others, following a path through the woods. Going over a few wooden planks to go over a small trickling creek, TUB &O paused for some self timed pictures. There has to be a few of the whole crew, eh?

The hike continued on, without any sight of the tunnels/ mines, until the trio made it to a wooden bridge, swinging over a canyon to the river. The only sign on the bridge stated “MAXIMUM PERSONS: 5”. Well, luckily TUB &O were only three and with some nervous giggles they continued on the bridge that seemed like it came out of an Indiana Jones movie. Building up some courage, the trio took a few pictures on the bridge, but then quickly scurried off.




From then on there were caves galore! Pulling out their flashlights, these birds explored the darkness imagining it was Golem’s cave from the Lord of the Rings. While Jaime practiced her best Golem impression repeating “my precious” as creepy as she could, TUB &O continued to find the gold mines. The mines were darker than the caves! Going on for what seemed forever, TUB &O stayed in a crouching position to not bang their heads against the smoothed out rock (with Oliver being 6’ 4”, he had a bit of trouble). As the crew journeyed in further, they could only see about 3 feet ahead before the darkness engulfed the rest. Once the tunnel started to split into different directions the trio stopped and took in the architecture of the gold mines. With a million markings along the walls and ceiling from picks, the birds found themselves running their feathers along the textured surroundings.
Finally being creeped out enough thinking they weren’t alone in the tunnels, TUB &O made their way out and kept walking the trail until it circled back to the beginning and their car.


Driving back to Greymouth, instead of staying in a hostel as planned, the trio decided it would be better (and cheaper) to just stay at another camp site. Of course it was dark again by the time they got to one, but the tent was up and food was being eaten in no time. The crew didn’t even try to start a fire, but popped right into the tent to snuggle up and stay warm. Continuously snacking throughout the night, Oliver comes out with the statement, “chips, apples, a granola bar and beer; food pyramid of the road.”  And it held true for the entire South Island voyage.


Stay tuned for more excitement, bungy jumping and of course shredSHREDshred!