Saturday, April 07, 2007

NZ - South Island touring

Abel Tasman National Park

We drive from Piction, via Nelson up to Abel Tasman national park. From here we rent a sea kayak, take a quick safety lesson and paddle around the park for a day. There are very clear waters close to shore, as we stop off and go ashore some small beaches that are only accessable by kayak. The sun is out all day and the scenery is incredible, but the highlight is when a stingray swims next to us. The kayak tour is a success.

Westport /Cape Fowlwind

The drive to Westport is uneventful until we want to fill up with diesel. We don't see a petrol station for over 80km, and we are getting very nervous as we run into Murchison on the fumes and eventually find a gas staton. We were told about how sparsly populated NZ's west coast is, but now we actually experienced it. Westport looks fairly boring, so we drive out to Cape Fowlwind. Here we do a great walk along the coast for a couple of hours which leads us to a seal colony.


Further down the coast we reach Punakaika, famous for the "pancake rocks" and "blowholes".
The rock formation by the sea has been erroded in such a way that it resembles giant pancakes stacked on top of each other. When the tide comes in the waves shoot up through holes causing a huge amount of spray. Nice place but a real tourist trap.


We arrive in Hokitika, a small town further down the west coast. It is famous for crafts made from Jade, glass, wood and bone. We have a look around one of the jade factories which is quite interesting. However, it is Good Friday and most other places are closed, so there isn't much else to do here. It's time to move on and drive another 150km to the Franz-Josef Glacier.

Franz-Josef Glacier

We spend the night in the village of Franz Josef, the jump off point to the glacier. There is a small party at the camping grounds, but wasn't really in the mood to stay that long. The next day we drive the 5km up to the Glacier car park and walk the half hour to the terminal face. It rained fairly constantly and the glacier was really dirty and not that impressive....given all the hype and the fact that I'd been to Perito Moreno in Argentina, I was quite dissapointed. Afterwards we walked back and drove another 20km to Fox Glacier. We spend an hour hiking around a lake which is supposed to be the best viewpoint for Mount Cook. Due to the bad weather and low cloud we see nothing and end up gettinmg pretty soaked. Mission failed :( Nothing left to do but head further south to Haast and stay at the beach.

Haast Beach

Great place to spend the night next to the beach, listening to the crashing waves and looking up at a sky full of stars. Unfortunately breakfast was not so idyllic, as I get eaten alive by swarms of sandflies. They bite, and it's pretty sore! Forget eating...I'm outta here and on to the next place...