17 March 2018: Saturday.

So we reached the Westport campsite around 9pm when it was well after dark. The roads as with most roads out of the towns/cities had no street lamps but there were reflective poles on the sides and reflectors in between the lanes so it was not a bad drive. Flo’s quite adept at driving along these kinds of places so we were completely safe.

When we arrived, the site looked unappealing and filled haphazardly with other camper vans. We had a quick dinner and went to bed but in the middle of the night, I woke up and looked out of our window only to have millions of stars twinkle at me. I woke Flo up and he sweetly took me out for a short bout of star gazing where I finally saw the Milky Way!

In the morning, we walked towards Carters Beach which sits to the right of Buller River. Contrary to my initial perception of the place, past the bushes that blocked the campsite from the sea, I was struck by the rolling waves crashing against the soft-as-powder sand.

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As serene as it looked, the large boulders that littered the head of the beach clearly reflected the sheer might of the water before us.

Our plan for the day was to visit the Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki. Along the way, we stopped by an area near Fox River just to be near the giant waves.

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Further along, we found Perpendicular Point where we could look out to where we came from. Funny how the waves looked so much gentler and more muted from there.

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Shortly after Perpendicular Point, we found ourselves at the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes.

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Pancake Rocks.

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Blowholes!

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It was a nice area to walk about but since it was around 4.30, 5pm, we thought to keep the nature trails for the next day and go early to the camp we’d spotted next to Paparoa Nature Reserve.

We were second to arrive so we managed a great spot overlooking the Tasman Sea. It was also our good luck before by 5.30pm, the place started filling up with more campers. We cooked an earlier dinner of short-cut Chilli con Carne which we ate by the beach with the wekas (a Native NZ bird that remind me of pigeons. They’re flightless and pretty big!).

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Oh! And did I mention the sandflies?! Yup! The only worst thing about New Zealand is the abundance of sand flies. And their bites are crazy itchy. Not just for one day. But for like, a week!! I was waking up countless nights after this one scratching like no body’s business because it felt so damn good!

Anyway, after clearing up from dinner, Flo suggested we go take our chairs out onto the main stretch of beach to watch the sun set. He said he wanted to fly his drone to get some pictures of us against the sun.

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And so we did. With Flo battling the sandflies with his armour of sunglasses, cap and fleece.

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Unfortunately for us, the promise of a beautiful sunset was deterred by a whole stretch of clouds sitting right on the horizon.

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No matter, Flo got his shots.

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The one of us holding hands was the one he said he wanted to snap.

When it started getting a little cold and the sandflies started becoming more aggressive for our blood, Flo suggested we go. I happily agreed! Then he pushed his chair away and gathered me into his arms and told me he wanted to ask me something.

He then got down onto one knee and said all these wonderfully sweet words (that I will not repeat here) before lapsing into German. He started to get emotional while I started thinking “omg omg omg is this happening?!“.

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Then he whipped out the ring and asked me to marry him. I tried so hard to think of something witty to say but all I could get out was a cliched “YES!”. And as he got up, we hugged and kissed while swatting away at the sandflies.

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And the ring? It was perfect. More perfect than I could have imagined.

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As much as I was hoping he would propose this trip, I had my hopes held back since I didn’t think Flo would have been able to hide a ring from me while we lived 24/7 together in the camper van, or even have time to buy one before flying off to Australia. Turns out, he did! He got one customised while in Australia and it came with him to NZ!

Then as we happily walked back to our camper van, he told me that the drone should have recorded the proposal all on video. First thing that came to my mind was “WHAT?! I’m wearing pink tracksuit bottoms and hiking shoes! How unglam is that?!”. Thankfully, because of the sun right in front, it was more our silhouettes, like in the photos above, that could be seen.

Sandflies, not-so-perfect sunset, and trekky pants aside, it was the perfect proposal from my perfect man. And I wouldn’t, couldn’t, have wished it any other way!

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2 replies on “New Zealand: Punakaiki <3

  1. Hi Natalie, I just read the good news about you getting engaged. Congratulations to the cute couple. I am so happy for you. I keep on reading your blog regularly and i know Flo is a great guy!!!!! May god bless you guys with loads and loads of love and happiness.

    Thanks Neeti

    1. Awww hey Neeti! I’m so touched that you’re still reading away. Thank you so much for your well wishes! ❤ How was your Cordon Bleu experience? Are you back in Mumbai? xx

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