Rugged west coast

Trip Start Feb 14, 2010
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Trip End Sep 15, 2011


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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Sunday, June 26, 2011

The west coast. The final frontier of NZ. This stunning, seemingly empty coast stretches sandwiched between the rugged ocean and formidable snow-capped southern Alps. The two most accessible glaciers, the Fox and Franz-Joseph, spill down from the Mount Cook massif, the country's highest summit. For those who've never seen a glacier, not much can be compared to it. Twisted, tortured ice, at a scale so massive it's difficult to conceptualize and wrap your mind around. When comparing pictures of the Franz-Joseph from 2006, I was shocked to see such a difference. The mass of ice had receded some, and had sunken greatly.

The drive from Queenstown through the mountains out to the coast is one of my favorites, and the drive up along the coast equally as stunning. We camped on the beach along the way north, scouting for potential surf breaks, without the aid of our surf guide. It simply labels the entire west coast south of Greymouth as - wide open to explore, go figure it out. We arrived in Greymouth under gray skies, and perfect ocean conditions. A small swell was filling in and the wind was blissful offshore. So we chased a potential left break just north of town, found it, looked fun and with no one around, but couldn't figure out how to get down to the beach. Private development and impenetrable bush blocked the way. So we put on the wetsuits and went on a mission through the creek and down the waterfall to the beach! Damn good fun. Then jumped in the water for a couple hours of waves without anyone around. In fact, of the 5 times we surfed, 4 were completely alone. Hell yeah, that's how we like it!

After that, made the mission back up the creek waterfall, warmed up and thawed out, ate lunch, grabbed a coffee, filled the tank, and made the journey through the mountains along Arthur's pass back to Christchurch.
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