It wasn’t easy for us to leave cute Takaka and the cozy Bed & Breakfast of Serge and Marie, but there was still so much of New Zealand left for us to explore! So after four blissfully lazy days we were thoroughly relaxed and turned south west to the rugged West Coast of South Island (with a glass of fresh home-made plum jam from Marie in our food basket 🙂 ).
On the West Coast we met the most terrifying and blood thirsty of all creatures of New Zealand. Every New Zealand traveller will already know, who we’re talking about. The undisputed ruler of the West Coast. THE RUTHLESS AND EVER BLOOD HUNGRY SANDFLY! Millions and millions of them in fact.
“Maori legend imaginatively explains the presence of Fiordland’s famously large sand flies: The goddess Te Hine-nui-te-po released the sandfly to stop people from lingering too long in the beauty of the fiords.” (newzealand.com)
Back in Australia we had already heard stories about sandflies haunting pristine white beaches in Queensland, but we’ve never seen them in person. During our travel in New Zealand so far we had been fairly lucky as well and only encountered a few of them on the Abel Tasman Track. They actually don’t look too scary … rather smallish, slowish, not too different from an average fruit fly and just as easy so swat.
Well nothing had quite prepared us for what was awaiting us on the West Coast! Those monster just laugh about German Autan, NZ supermarket insect repellent brands like Off or Aerogard (why do they bother to sell that useless stuff at all?). Eating loads of Vegemite or the Kiwi equivalent Varmite supposedly helps, but we either didn’t eat enough or it is not working for German backpackers. The only thing that seems to help is covering every square millimetre of your body with Australian Bushman insect repellent with minimum 40% DEET! Even then you can be guaranteed that hordes of these (female) bloodsuckers will find the one microscopic spot you missed. And instead of sucking a little blood and leave, like civilized and merciful mosquito, they BITE you again and again and again to feast on the blood pouring out of the bite wounds leaving you with numerous red spots terribly itching for days and weeks.
On a more positive note, once you’ve accepted the rule of the sandflies, the West Coast is really stunning with quite a lot to do and see 😉
Deserted gold and coal mines are riddling the countryside:
Pancake rocks of Punakaiki:
Charming Creek Walkway following the derelict rail tracks of an old coal and timber enterprise: