4th and 5th of October: Golden Bay to Fox Glacier
We have covered about 550 kilometres in the last few days – travelling from Wainui Bay in Golden Bay (near Takaka) down the west coast to Fox Glacier. We were expecting it but the weather has really changed! It has been really wet and windy (and foggy in places) today but hasn’t really mattered as we have been in the car most of the day! The scenery has been incredibly beautiful along the west coast though – very rugged (lots of sea and rocks!) and really beautiful.
Thurs 4th Oct: Wainui Bay to Punakaiki
We left our hideaway in golden bay in the morning, stopping off at Takaka on the way for a few bits of shopping and to quickly update my blog in the library and set off on our drive. We headed for the Nelson Lakes first – to Lake Rotoiti, and stopped briefly for a picnic in Tapawera first. Arriving at Lake Rototoi it was a stunning lake and we had a wander around. We came across a kiwi zone on the walkway but didn’t see any (probably because they are only nocturnal!). Leaving here we carried on our journey and on the way come across workmen cleaning a single track bridge (see picture in my gallery) which held up traffic for about 15 minutes!! We arrived on the west coast and stopped at a couple of small beaches on the way to Punakaki. The weather had turned much colder and wilder so seeing the waves crash against the rocks was pretty spectacular! I took lots of pictures of the sea and rocks (Dad – you would be proud!) and we enjoyed spending time on one of the coves. Driving along the west coast was beautiful and it did remind me quite a bit of Highway 1 in California (obviously with different weather!). Arriving at the Punakaiki resort we were really pleased we had been allocated a room with a gorge view overlooking the beach and ocean. We then headed for the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes – famous geological structures. The moody and ferocious weather made for atmospheric photos. The loop walk took about 20 minutes passing different eroded limestone rocks on the way. We also saw some water spraying up through the blowholes which looked great. The scenery here was awesome – with spectacular views of the coast looking both ways. Back at our room we enjoyed watching the sun set and it was a lovely way to end our arrival on the west coast.
Fri 5th Oct: Punakaiki to Fox Glacier
Leaving our resort around 10am we set off an another drive – this time further down the coast to Fox Glacier. The weather was rainer today and we headed for Greymouth for a trip to our favourite supermarket – Countdown – for some bits of food. We also stopped at Hokitika and ate at a delicious pizza place – Fat Pipi’s Pizza place and went to the information centre. Heading further down the west coast the weather turned worse still and we were travelling in very heavy rain. Being protected in the warm in our little car we didn’t mind and turned up the heat and music and continued on the road. Around the Kumara Junction area we saw some strange sites though – and also somewhat dangerous! We came across railways crossing roads without any lights or warnings and simply a ‘give way’ sign for cars to stop and check. One of these crossings was at a bridge where the railway line went over the bridge and cars had to drive along the railway track to cross the bridge!! It was also a single track bridge (as most are in NZ) so we had to wait on the train track for other vehicles to come through first before crossing – yikes!! Luckily we didn’t see any trains 🙂 The other crazy sight was a railway crossing through the middle of a roundabout! Mental! I didn’t get any pictures but have found a similar one online and included it here: Crazy New Zealand! Arriving at Franz Josef Glacier we stopped briefly to take it in (as we had stayed here in 2006) and noticed it was more built up than when we visited back then. Then we completed the short trip from there to here – Fox Glacier. We checked in at the Fox Glacier Lodge into our wonderful mezzanine apartment. I am currently sitting here writing this in our warm apartment (with a gorgeous gas fire), listening to the heavy rain fall – and looking forward to a nice spa bath later! We are hoping to do the half day glacier walk tomorrow – weather permitting. The forecast is poor so we will play it by ear. Having been lucky enough to do a heli hike back on Franz Josef in 2006 if the weather doesn’t allow it we will be ok and enjoy time to relax here before another big drive down to Queenstown. Thanks for reading and will post again soon! – goodbye from the wet and wild west coast of NZ 🙂