From early November to Early December we decided to travel down our beautiful West Coast in the South Island back to Christchurch from Nelson. This Coast is rugged and wet, in fact in New Zealand it is often referred to as “The Wet Coast.” However the scenery is spectacular.
One thing I was very proud of being able to do was walk across a swing bridge over the Buller Gorge as I don’t like heights nor motion ,with Derek’s encouragement I made it over the river to to view the old gold mining site.
First town we stayed at was Westport, we stayed in the NZMCA camp which is right on the beach. From there we took a trip up to Karamea and to the Oparara Arches There were two you could choose from but we went to the Moria Gate one as it was an easier walk. They are beautiful limestone arches cut from the rock by the river. The brown river is what we call a bracken river which means that the water is coloured by the ferns that grow along the edges.
Next we went down to Greymouth where we stayed a couple of days and went to see the wonderful pancake rocks at Punakaiki where are amazing blow holes which weren’t blowing much while we were there. They are dependent on the tides and weather for the best displays.
We also did a trip out around some of the old coal and gold mines. We are always interested in history especially Derek.
Next on our trip was Hokitika where again we took advantage of the Motor Caravan Ass camp. This town is the Geenstone area of the coast and if you are lucky you could find chips of the stone on the beach. The beaches on the West Coast are very stony and full of drift wood. At Hokitika once a year they have a driftwood festival where contestants make wonderful creations using the wood they find on the beach. It is also the home of Ruby Rock or Goodletite and we met the most amazing man who told us all about it.
Next stop was Franz Joseph Where of course we went to see the Glacier. It was another achievement time for me as I find it hard to walk long distances and over rough ground, but I was determined to get right to end the end of the walk as far as we were allowed to go. It was supposed to take about an hour and a half return but it took us at least two hours. The first part of the track was like a highway the latter part more along the river bed and the final part up a rough track.
With Franz still as our base we went for a trip to Fox Glacier. unfortunately we were unable to walk to it as the road in was closed because the heavy rain they experienced left a large rock exposed over the road. We did go to the side of the river where you could see it along with all the other people. We decided we would go to Lake Matheson for a look as it is known for its views of Mount Cook , Fox Glacier and reflections in the lake. We were fortunate to see the Mt Cook and the glacier but the lake was to ripply to see any reflections. For us east Cantabrians it was a bit strange seeing Mt Cook from the West side, but so beautiful.
The next leg of our journey was to Haast where we stayed the night before going over the pass to Wanaka. All in all a very good trip. Yes it rained and rained ,sometime torrential, but we had lots of fine days we could enjoy the sites. Because of the climate the sandflies are super big and hungry, so had to have the insect repellent handy and on all times. It had been many many years since we had made that trip and it was good to be reminded how beautiful our fair land is and what an awesome creator we have.