|Now more or less satisfied that we had done enough tramping for a while, we were now looking forward to heading down the West Coast and exploring more of the South Island.
We said our goodbyes to Jane then drove back down to Motueka, then along the Motueka river valley, eventually joining the SH6 down to Westport.
We stopped briefly at the Pupu springs (yes that's right, I did say pupu) which are natural springs that chuck out an amazing amount of freshwater per second. Can't remeber the exact figures but it's a lot. The water was a nice colour too.
We drove on through yet more fantastic scenery, including the dramatic Buller Gorge, where we stopped briefly. We took a walk over the longest rope bridge in New Zealand. Kate has a well known fear of heights so I did my best to re-assure her as we walked over and she bravely followed me. In fact she soon found plenty of courage and as we returned over the bridge high over the gorge. I felt the bridge beginning to sway as though someone were deliberately testing it behind us. I chose to walk on and kept talking to Kate who was behind me, trying not to draw attention to the wobbliness. With only a few metres to go I looked over my shoulder, only to realise that it was Kate who was wobbling the bridge. She no longer has my sympathy for vertigo.
The West Coast is infamous for its rainfall, with some places receiving a whopping 7 metres of rain per year. Right on cue as we dropped into the lower Buller Gorge it started to pour down. We love rain though (Kate should - it's her job to like rain) and it was a refreshing change from the hot weather we had enjoyed further north.
We drove through the fairly non-descript town of Westport and went north up the coast to a little village called Hector. Tony had recommended a good backpacker's lodge to stay in here called The Old Slaughterhouse.
It had a fantastic setting halfway up the steep hillside over looking the coast and you had to park at the bottom and walk up on foot through the lush forests that cling to the hillside. Fortunately, as we arrived at the bottom we met David, the owner, who took our bags up for us on his little 4WD buggy.
Once we climbed up to the hostel we found it spookily cloaked in mist. Inside we discovered a large group of backpackers merrily cooking their dinners. They were all very friendly and the whole place had a very happy atmosphere, bordering on the weird, but we soon got used it so we just relaxed and blended in.