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Punakaiki – West Coast, New Zealand

This trip shall be otherwise known as the “failed surf trip” or “the time we tried to surf on the west coast, but ended up playing Jenga at the fanciest bach in New Zealand.”

I normally don’t make it a habit to move to a new country and hang out with mostly expats, but when you move to another country at the same time as a whole group of other people who also don’t have any friends, you tend to form a little clique. So that’s what happened when my partner moved to Christchurch in December. Since moving to New Zealand with him, we have formed an wonderful and amazing group of friends who are all British. Sometimes during my two months here, I’ve felt like I am living in a slightly warmer and more tropical United Kingdom.

Anyway, this group of Britons decided while the weather was still warm in the last few weeks of summer to organise a trip to the west coast of the south island to surf. A few days before the trip, unfortunately, we were hit with bad news:

Errrrrrr. Guys……….. Has anyone looked at the surf forecast?
I’m not sure how much surfing we’ll be doing…….

The waves were 6 meters high, and more than likely to kill us if we even tried. So the question was, what should we do? The doctors in the group all agreed, who knew when all of us would have the same time off again? So we went. Everyone even brought their surf boards, because they are British, and nothing is more British than hoping for the weather to clear up.

In a surprising turn of events, even though the waves and endless west coast rain washed out most of our planned activities for the weekend, the mammoth surf provided a stunning backdrop at the Pancake Rocks in Punakaiki. People who had visited the park before said it hadn’t been remotely as beautiful or interesting in mild weather, especially the blow holes. When standing by the holes, you would here a low rumble after the waves hit the rocks and then the pressure in the underground cavern would be too much and suddenly BOOM! A huge burst of salt water would spring straight up into the air!

After being throughly drenched in the park by the steady rain and sea mist, we headed to the Pancake Rocks Cafe, which I insisted should have been called the “Pancakes Rock! Cafe” and obviously ordered a stack of pancakes. Not quite American, not quite British, after walking around in the cold and damp, pancakes are good for the soul.

We retreated to our bach and it’s wood fire place for the rest of the night. Once we had played enough Jenga for a year, we moved on to more drinking-involved games (flip-cup, some precarious card and whisky thing), finally ending the night with a light film provided to us by the Bach, “The Shawshank Redemption.”

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Photography and words by Diana Eastman
For more from Diana, follow her on Instagram at @thedianaeastman.

Oh, and don’t forget to check out our store for prints from our travels and more!

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