Stepping into the Woodpecker Bay bach in many ways was like stepping back in time. The coal stove as a main fixture in the living area explained the dingy walls and gray smudges on the paint. The pale green ceramic sink sat next to the cast iron claw foot bathtub in the bathroom with a floor that sloped downhill. Noticeably absent from the bathroom, a toilet. The place certainly had character, old and new clashed together like the water and rocks outside. A beautiful piece of granite topped one counter next to the modern fridge. Painted wood covered another corner over the propane tanks that fueled the stove with a formica countertop on the other side, peeling tape holding one edge together.
The outdated decor, roof leak, and scratched wood shrunk silently in the background as the surround sound of the sea washed in. We did not choose this place for the luxuries. We wanted a one of a kind way to see the west coast, up close and personal and we got exactly that. The two large picture windows in the corner offered a stunning view, just as we expected from the pictures on the internet, but it was even more impressive live.
We stood awestruck on the front step for a few moments before walking to the toilet down the stone path lined with tall flax bushes and a calla lily plant full of blooms.
We’d had fair warning that the toilet was outside the main house, but using it would still be an adjustment for us. The shed was rather primitive. A pile of rocks sat on one corner of the roof to hold it in place. Inside it was relatively spacious, side to side but lacked generous vertical space. That obviously was more of a challenge for Paul. The challenge for me was sharing it with the spiders. As you stepped up to the throne it was impossible to miss the two windows. One was wedged into an opening and looked out to the crashing waves, on the opposite wall, a beautiful stained glass piece lit up in the sun. A solar powered set of decorative lights with pink plastic flowers hung in the corner. I didn’t realize how much I would appreciate these until my first trip to the room at 1:30 am in the drizzle. This was not your ordinary outhouse. Each of us found ourselves in a predicament at least once when we failed to remember to bring the TP with us. (It couldn’t stay in the loo, as it didn’t take long to get soggy in the wet weather.)
We were greeted at Woodpecker Bay with cloudy weather and rough seas showering spectacular splashes high over the rocks.
The roar of the ocean undulated but never ceased. Clouds, drizzle and rain predominated for the week but the view never seemed dull. The next day showed skies with broken clouds, we made the drive up to Cape Foulwind and the town of Westport. We’d intended to walk a while on the track around Cape Foulwind, but when we reached the lighthouse we could see the rain moving in, so we turned around and went back to the car favoring dry clothes over a walk in the rain.
On Wednesday there were clearing skies, but the wind that cleared them kept blowing which made it cold and unpleasant for sitting out on the rocks to enjoy the scenery. We didn’t miss a thing though because we could enjoy just as great of a view from inside sipping hot drinks. Friday after being under the blanket of clouds for almost two days, we were treated to a phenomenal sunset.
The colorful sky just so happened to coincide with high tide so we had a wonderful backdrop to photograph the big splashes as the waves pushed the water further and further in toward the bach. When Saturday rolled around, we woke to clear skies and sun. It was such a welcome sight, looks were deceiving though, the temperature was colder with the sun and wind than with the clouds. We were ready to get out even if for a little bit so we drove back to Punakaki but this time walked down to the Punakaki cavern. That was an awesome little find, a huge cave that you could go exploring in. With only our cell phones for lights, we didn’t get very far, but we made it far enough in that there was no sign of daylight. We turned off our lights and marveled for a few moments at the total utter blackness, realizing how easily you can become disoriented without light. An eerie feeling yet it seemed a perfect illustration for a more profound concept and principle of life.
Then, standing there in the dark, one single, tiny glowworm on the ceiling caught our eye. The miniscule speck glowing from above us stood out like a lone star in a vast black sky. It was such an incredible unexpected and brief experience that provoked an afternoon of pondering.
After that we took a walk along a sandy beach for some fresh air and wondered in awe at life and this amazing adventure we are living.
On our final day at the bach, we simply stayed put again. We took our time enjoying breakfast, cleaned for the next guests and then spent a while exploring out on the rocks during low tide. Because the low tides were getting lower and the high tides higher, there were a lot more rocks to explore than earlier in our stay. As we wandered up and down and over and around, we began noticing so many more little creatures. Snails, large and small dotted the rocks and black patches of little mussels covered many of the tidal rocks along with chitons and others we couldn’t name.
An abundance of starfish of all sizes and shades of orange clung to the lower areas of the rocks, there were hundreds of them that we hadn’t seen until that day. Standing there on exposed rocks looking out to the rolling, foaming waves gave us the sense we were looking up at the ocean and we marveled that the very place we were standing would be submerged in a matter of hours as the tide came in. The ocean carried on, day and night, cycling through calm flat spells to periods of large swells with waves splashing so high the water seemed to hang, suspended while we couldn’t help but release audible expressions of surprise and delight before the droplets splattered back to the surface of the sea. It was comparable to watching a perpetual fireworks display. The week was certainly a unique experience we really did enjoy. That said though, we are looking forward to a fully equipped interior bathroom again.