The Cray Pot
The dawn of Day 12 of our West Coast adventure was calm with a clear blue sky and a coolness in the air. The native birds started their morning chorus as the sun began to rise over the incoming king tide of the Okuru River.
This was to be our last day of exploring as tomorrow we start to retrace our steps for our journey home.
Being in the depths of South Westland Hubby decided today we would follow the road to Jackson Bay which is the very end of the West Coast road. We passed small settlements on the side of the road which are homes to saw millers and fishermen and drove through forests of Rimu and Kahikatea trees. The Haast area is known for its dramatic and diverse landscape. It has a dramatic coastline of beaches, rugged cliff tops and rock formations.
Maori first settled here at least 800 years ago, the sea, coast and navigable rivers providing main points of access. Maori settlement and activity dominated by gathering, carving and trade in precious pounamu (greenstone).
European settlement was attempted at Jackson Bay during the 1870s, they hunted whales to supply oil and fish for food. The pioneers' attempt to "tame" the landscape was largely unsuccessful but their efforts left a tradition of South Westland residents as being tough, resilient and independent. Today Jackson Bay is a small fishing village, it is the only natural deep water wharf on the West Coast. A small fishing plant is still operational to serve the remaining commercial fishing industry. Its a quiet place where everything is done in a relaxed manner.
We took time to visit the Arawhata Pioneer Cemetery, the burial site for some of the first European settlers to come to Jackson Bay in 1875. The forest has reclaimed most of the graves, many unnamed and some so very small, set in a quiet environment of shade and birdsong from our native trees and birds. The story of the unsuccessful settlement is one of hardship, premature death and unrealised dreams.
Hubby and I walked from Jackson Bay to Jackson Head, through lush plantings of native bush and rainforest coming out onto the rocky shore at Ocean Beach. Time on the beach was limited as the king tide was on its way in, leaving not a lot of room to explore. On our return we were hoping for some lunch at The Cray Pot, sitting here looking out over the calm Tasman Sea, watching the fishing boats come in with their catch and just enjoying the moment but it was closed for the season, we still took time to sit and enjoy this tranquil spot.
Heading back to Okuru river to our secluded retreat, we ventured off road and up dirt tracks by some rivers to discover many little baches nestled amongst the trees, all painted in dark green to blend with the surroundings - they are baches used during the whitebait season, a time where everyman has 'his spot' on the river, where his catch is a safely guarded secret - more about this tomorrow :)
I'll leave you with the tranquil scene of Jackson Bay, the backbone of the Southern Alps, the wharf and The Cray Pot.