Along the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island, with the Southern Alps to the east and the Tasman Sea to the west, we traveled south toward Hokitika for a night’s stay.
Along the way we stopped at Buller Gorge and walked across “New Zealand’s longest swingbridge” (110m long and 17m high) above the rushing waters of the Buller River.
As you can see, the Buller Gorge Swingbridge is not wheelchair accessible.
In the early afternoon we stopped at Punakaiki, in the Paparoa National Park, to see the famous Pancake Rocks and blowholes. Formed 30 million years ago, these limestone rocks have been sculpted over the millennia by the mildly acidic rain, wind and sea water, forming what looks like piles of thick pancakes. As described in Lonely Planet New Zealand (16th Edition; pg. 455), “When the tide is high … the sea surges into caverns and booms menacingly through the blowhole. See it on a wild day and be reminded that Mother Nature really is the boss.” Unfortunately we did not experience the blowholes at high-tide. (I was sorry to miss the spectacle, although I was happy to keep my camera dry!) Much of the flax-flanked pathway was wheelchair accessible; and signage indicated when it was time to turn around. Narrow stone steps preclude a wheelchair user from going further. Although most of the rock formations were accessible, a few interesting ones (such as these two) were not.