Great NZ Family Road Trip – Great Pancakes

Day 5: Hokitika – Nelson, Rain, 18ºC max, 14ºC min. Hokitika

Everyone gathered in our room for breakfast as usual. The children had the opportunity to meet and greet each other every morning, it was such a treasured blessing that we don’t take for granted.

Hokitika figurines

Our youngest members in our family loved taking over the steering wheel. That was Matthew and Little E in the front seats of Josh’s car, all ready for our next destination! I supposed when they grow up, there would come a chance for Matthew to really drive E around in his own car in the future… Heh!

2 young drivers

As we left Fitzherbert Court, it was already raining. We went to New World to stock up on some snacks, water, and other essentials before heading off to Nelson, our last destination in the South Island before we board the InterIslander to step foot onto the North Island. Today’s drive would take us 4+ hrs along 325 km of mainly winding roads.

Hokitika to Nelson

The small town Nelson is popularly known as “Sunny Nelson” because it is one of the sunniest places in New Zealand with around 2,500 hrs of sunshine per year. We were hoping by the time we arrived there, the rain would have ceased, or at least be dwindled to a light drizzle. Along the route, we stopped by Punakaiki, which is situated between Westport and Greymouth, to visit the famous Pancake Rocks, that lies on the edge of the Paparoa National Park.

Pancake Rocks

Pancake rocks

Created by immense pressure that presses alternating hard and soft layers of marine creatures and plant sediments together, the Pancake Rocks were formed via a ‘pancake’-layering process caused by the heavy erosion of limestone. Worn and sculptured by the weather and sea, unique stacks of resembling pancakes were left behind, layered on top of one another.

Pancake rocks


To see the Pancake Rocks, we walked through well-paved walkways winding through the rock formations, with some parts being carved into stairways that go up and down the rock faces.

The girls jumped!

A well-maintained loop track, the Pancake Rocks walkway winds from the main road, through the native rainforest and into flax and coastal vegetation as it nears the rugged coastline.

Pancake Rocks walkway

Pancake Rocks

At the coastline, the track has many lookout points perfect for photo opportunities of and with the Pancake Rocks, interesting blowholes and beautiful views of the coast and mountains.

We took many photos and had loads of fun with posing and jumping.

Family and the pancakes

It must have been difficult to coordinate and be synchronised for our jump shots, because that was the best photo found in our camera! 😝😂

Cherries atop the pancakes

Then all of us became resembling cherries on top of towering stacks of pancakes! Someone pass us the maple syrup, please?!

Although the sun went into hiding today, and the area was overcast (not only from the cloudy grey sky, but also the hues of grey from the rock faces themselves), our spirits were high as we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

We particularly love the above pictures! The grandparents were tickled pink by the amusing contrast in expressions posed by the 2 tired and cranky toddlers. 😂 Hmmm… or perhaps the 2 littlies were famished from all the walking…

Pancake Rocks Cafe

Talking about food… The Pancake Rocks Cafe is just right across from us when we reached the end of the walkway which is also its entrance since it is a loop track. Lured in by a chalkboard that read, “Pancakes with streaky bacon and caramelised bananas”, we were all ready to sink our teeth into some real fluffy pancakes.

Pancakes with bacon and caramelised bananas

Dad ordered berry pancakes with whipped cream to share with Mum! while JMIDM ordered both sets to share.

Berry pancakes

Besides offering a good variety of food, the cafe is also well-stocked with Global Culture T-shirts, Evolve Jewellery and other great NZ made gifts. Isabella and Daniella bought 2 really cute kiwi birds that when pressed on their tummies, one tweeted, while the other sang the Maori war chant similar to that being heard before the kiwis play in a rugby competition. The 2 birds kept Little E intrigued for a while! 😝

After wolfing down the pancakes, we journeyed on towards Nelson, where we would be putting up for 2 nights, to have time to explore the beautiful region, touted as a land rich with spectacular scenery, 3 national parks, and the highest sunshine hours in the South Island. It is the place to forget about the busy pace of life for a while!

Nelson cottage

We drove 258 km for 3 hrs before we finally arrived at the Grand Mercure Nelson Monaco, NZ’s first handcrafted resort village. We were charmed by its quaint character and old world beauty that it exudes the moment our car turned into its car park.

Girls in the car park

We stayed in a self-contained split-level 2-bedroom cottage that comes complete with a fully-equipped kitchen, a lounge and a large garden that is shared among all the adjoining cottages. We stayed in cottage 404 and JMIDM stayed in cottage 408 of the Village Green Cottages.

Nelson cottage

As J unpacked the car, the cousins were enjoying the freedom to stretch, run, laugh, cuddle and kiss in the free and open space, especially after such a long car ride! Precious!!

Dad and Mum, JMIDM, and J and I left Josh with the kids and went to New World in town to stock up on groceries, to cook dinner for tonight, and for breakfast tomorrow. We were initially worried about leaving Little E behind with Josh and the kids alone, but our anxiety was uncalled for.

When we returned from the supermarket, we found Little E playing so happily with her cousins in the large garden, so much so that when we called her, she simply ignored us and carried on playing with them!

Tonight, we had a 3-course dinner: Mum and Dad prepared spaghetti with minced beef, Mei Tsin made salad with honey mustard dressing, and I baked a store-bought apple crumble, eaten with peppermint ice-cream with chocolate chips! Scrumptious!!

Dinner in the cottage

It was not raining in Nelson, we hoped tomorrow’s weather would be good too because we would be going to Abel Tasman National Park, NZ’s only coastal national park that boasts of its golden sandy beaches and clear turquoise water come morning! Excited!!

“The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the day time, and in the night His song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.” (Psalm 42:8 KJV)

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