The West Coast
Trip Start Sep 19, 2009
87Trip End May 19, 2010
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Where I stayed
A new campervan park by the Indian Restaurant!
After crossing the Pass, we stopped at the first lookout, Knights Point, to cook up some bacon sarnies for our lunch, which we ate while enjoying the views of the ocean and magnificent blue skies. Back in Polly, we continued on until the village of Fox Glacier, where we picked up a map and headed to walk to the terminus of the glacier itself. Being a relatively clear day, we were able to see a lot of the ice and get close up to the end point. It is actually quite a dirty white glacier, not quite like the Perito Moreno in Argentina, but still impressive to be so near it
Our next stop was the nearby Lake Matheson, famous for its views of Mt Cook the other surrounding mountains, which can be seen reflecting in the lake on a very clear day. Sadly, although it was nice & sunny, a layer of cloud had developed covering the two peaks (typical!). Also, there was a slight breeze, and therefore no reflection! Ach well, we still did the hours walk around the lake and thought the views we saw were beautiful, so mustn't grumble.
Keen to stop for the day we continued on another 26 km on the windiest road so far to get to the Franz Josef village and glacier. We wanted to book for the half day walk on the glacier for early morning, but unfortunately found that all were booked until midday... when the rain was due. Having done a walk when I was last in NZ in 2006 in the pouring rain, I was not keen to repeat this experience - remembering how cold we were last time! Also it would mean that we were not back until 6pm, too late to get very far up the west coast as we had planned to afterwards. After much umming and ahhing, we were lucky enough to get a discount on booking a helicopter ride over the glacier for a 10am start, weather permitting. Phew, once this was sorted we cooked in Polly and collapsed to bed.
Brrr that was another cold night in Polly... We awoke to lots of dark clouds, but fortunately no rain, which meant it was a green light for the helicopter ride. Neither of us had been in a helicopter before, so we were both slightly terrored, however take off and flying were both incredibly smooth. The pilot took us up the glacier, getting very close to the surface so that we could see deep, blue crevasses..
We stopped in the town of Hokitika for our lunch break. The town is famous for its production of Jade, the main streets are covered in shops with Jade pendants and factories. I had planned to buy myself a pendant, but on looking at the price tags decided against it, hmm maybe next time..
Our original plan had been to stay somewhere on the West Coast, and continue north to Abel Tasman and my cousin’s house the next day. However, feeling on a roll we kept going, deciding it would be nice to have a relaxing Friday in Nelson and around the Abel Tasman area before descending on the relatives. The only obstacle that slowed us down was a huge truck carrying logs, which sped up at every straight bit of road - making overtaking a challenge (but not impossible!).