Driving down the West Coast.
The only way you can see the West Coast of the South Island is by road. One state highway stretches down the west of the island between the coast and the Southern alps. It is mile after mile of stunning coastline even in the rain and clouds. Before we drove inland to Arthurs Pass we stopped at the Pancake Rocks to stretch our legs and see what we could of the view with all the clouds. As much as the clouds and then the rain made it hard to see far into the distance I found there is something beautiful about the ocean in that light. It turns a milky green-grey colour. We spent that night at the DOC Goldsborough campsite about thirty minutes south of Greymouth, in a secluded camp spot only a couple of miles from the main highway. This has to be one of my favourite camp spots on our whole trip it felt like we were camping in the rain forest, and because the camp was quite spread out you felt like you were the only ones there.
The following couple of days were spent in Arthurs Pass, camping (Klondyke Corner DOC campsite), relaxing, drawing, playing boules/pentaque, and doing a couple short hikes. On our way out of the valley we did the Devils Punchbowl hike, which despite being mostly steps wasn’t too challenging and was a great way to get moving the morning before a long drive back to the coast.
New Zealand is definitely the country that has made me love being out in nature more than ever before, even the more popular scenic areas feel secluded and away from everything except the natural environment. Including when your campsite is next to a state highway or there are several camper vans parked up next to you.
Then we headed back out onto the coastal highway briefly stopping in Greymouth for coffee or in my case a chai latte, some camp supplies and a much needed shower.
We spent the night at McDonald Creek Camp, where we experienced the fewest amount of sandflies since Tasman. This was a huge relief, after several days of being bitten regardless of how much bug spray was applied.
The next day was filled up with hiking and viewing glaciers. If you have driven down the West Coast then you know how incredible both Franz Joseph and Fox Glacier are to see. But it is also scary how quickly they have receded in recent years, due to that way we are currently treating our planet. That night was the last we spent on the West Coast before heading east inland to Wanaka and Hawea lakes, due to a huge amount of rain we stopped at a motor lodge in Haast and ate a huge portion of chips each at the local pub/restaurant deciding to continue the drive inland the next day when we were better rested, fed and showered.
Hopefully the next instalment of this South Island Series will be up within the next week, but no promises as I have just moved to Montreal.