Early morning beach walk in Bicheno. Saw the blowhole, a structure where incoming waves are channeled under a rock and through a hole in the top to make a spout, sometimes 5 meters high. The winds were low and the waves were small, so the spout was too, but still pretty cool.
I learned that a “track” was not the habitat of the nylon and spandex attired, but means either a footpath or a trail. We followed the Bicheno shoreline version several kilometers before breakfast.
Back at the backpacker hotel I had a chat with Ena, a young Japanese woman I saw pouring over map. I had noticed her the previous evening because of the feathers in her long hair and the fascinatingly flowy and colorful clothing she was wearing. I Invited her to join Veronica and my planned trip to Freycinet NP and she was ecstatic to have a plan for the day and some company. She looked like I have felt for the past few days.
Veronica drove up more beautiful coast to the Freychinet Peninsula and National Park. We followed a well-groomed and easily navigable track up though the eukalyptus forest and to the Wineglass Bay lookout. Again, the route was measured by “return time,” rather than linear distance, but it did mention that we ascended 400 meters and 300 stairs. The steps were natural stones arranged to make an uneven staircase. The stones are like granite (pink feldspar and white quartz, black mineral) but had no mica, so I think the rock type has another name. Little help? Lichens on surfaces darkened many areas of the boulders, and the overall effect was very pretty.
There were lots of enormous, precarious looking boulders perched on outcrops over the trail, and fascinating erosion patterns looked like enormous finger holes in a bowling ball. Others made caves.
Ena reminded me of one or two friends from the very early ‘70’s who tryly were flower children. Perhaps she’s actually a Buddist, but she seems to have a connection with the natural world that is unlike that of anyone I currently know. She touched every tree, collected leaves, branches, seed pods and feathers (the latter she put in her long braids), and when she lay on the beach, she seemed to absorb the energy of the Universe. It was fascinating to watch, and even though there was a substantial language barrier, we had a great time together. When she told me she was from Hiroshima it surprised me, but of course the city has risen fromthe ashes. My association with the name is still stuck in 1945.
We reached the lookout to see lots of photo-snapping tourists (including us) and the beach below us. A sign had said it was one of the “10 most beautiful beaches in the world,” but there was no citation.
I convinced Veronica and Ena to walk the extremely steep track “1.5 hours return” down to the water. The beach was truly magnificent - fine white sand, turquoise water, orange crusted rocks, and a mountain backdrop. Chilly wind and ambient 21°C temp dissuaded me from swimming but some intrepid folks were inthe water.
We shared lunch I packed and some food Ena brought (stir-fry with veggies and rice and avocado which she wrapped in Nori), after which V and I walked along the windswpt sand, noting all sorts of biological wonders along the shore.
In addition to lots of shore irds, including some remarkably un-skittish oyer catchers, there were Interesting unidentified clear blobs atop bright blue blobs with blue tentacles. The blobs (jellies of some species) were only a few centimeters across, but some of the tentacles stretched over 30 cm. No photos, becuase they just looked like shrivled blue lumps of plastic. Gorgeous colors!
While Ena meditated, I walked to end of beach, about 1km(?) to a tiny peaceful cove where wind was less evident. I was thinking it felt like avgood spot to camp, then saw a tent and a tatted dreadlocked couple. He was shooting with a fancy camera, she lying on the beach reading. Later on the hike out I crossed paths with two groups of three hiking in with full packs, a couple, and a Taiwanese guy who had spent the previous night at the backpacker hotel. All were heading in to camp and hike the peninsula loop (3 days recommended). I want to do that!!!
On our return trip, I wanted to hike the smaller loop trail (of course I did) that was clocked at 3.5 hours, but my companions preferred to head back to car.
V wanted to walk the other half of the Bichonet beach loop so we could get to the fairy penguin rookery and see the birds as they returned from their daily fishing expedition to feed their checks. Ena had said she’d seen them the day before between 4-5 o’clock. We walked the 1.5 km (we checked a printed map) to Governor’s island crossing a sandbar at low tide, around 5:30. We sat on the windy bluffs amid the penguin burrows housing invisible-to-us penguin chicks until about 6:45, knowing full well the penguin parents would not return until dusk, which would be about 8 or 8:30. Headed home before the sandbar was inundated, watching the gorgeous light on the gorgeous landscape. We never saw the penguins.
This was the best day so far.