Sunday, 5 April 2015

South Island Road Trip - Westport and Pancake Rocks

Westport can be summed up with an quote from one of my favourite Simpson's episodes: Trains "don't come through here much any more".

Don't think this sees much use...

The town had an indefinite Boil Water notice that had been in force for several years. A large percentage of the buildings in the main street were either vacant or in some state of actual decay.

This old pub was for sale. The building would need to be demolished, and I can't imagine the land has much value.

The motel we booked was on the Esplanade. To me, an Esplanade is the road that runs alongside the beach - right? Unfortunately this particular esplanade had a road, railway line, cement silos and a dune between us and the beach.

We didn't have high expectations for Westport, but frankly it failed to meet even our low bar. Speaking of bars, we wandered the main street looking for dinner. The bars were so frightening that Chris refused to go in. Each was full of old men (no women), and each of them turned to stare at every single passer-by. They did serve a lovely dinner at the Denniston Dog however, which was where we ended up.

This seemed to be an operational shop, but I'm pretty sure it's tilting from the middle!

The saddest thing about this town is how easy it is to see a similar scenario unfolding in many other rural areas. Anywhere that relies on mining, manufacture, or exports of anything but dairy is so susceptible to external market forces. It only takes a few years of low productivity for the major businesses to leave, and a lot of the residents won't have money or skills that are easily transferable to bigger cities.
Pancake Rocks selfie!

There was more of this to be witnessed throughout the South Island, but Westport was by far the most depressing example. Leaving the next morning, we weren't sad to see the back of the place.

A drive out to Cape Foulwind and a pancake brunch at Pancake Rocks made for a more attractive trip to our next destination!
Cape Foulwind
Stinky seals
Punakaiki/Pancake Rocks


  1. I love the last photo!! And this post totally reminded me that I've been meaning to tell you that I found a diverse book set in New Zealand (remember how I asked you about that when you were here?)! WOO. And, appropriately, it's set in a small town on the South Island that suspiciously isn't going down hill like all the other small towns in the area... (The Shattering by Karen Healey, if you're interested!)

    1. Ooh, I'll look for that book in the library! Thanks Kirsti :-)


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