Making our way down from the Abel Tasman, the West coast had a hard act to follow. From amazing beaches with spectacular water we were now heading down south, into the colder climates. The boardies went away, the jackets came out and we braced ourselves for the temperatures we had been trying to avoid. Nevertheless we managed to make it just as amazing as everywhere else. With glaciers, blowholes and a whole set of amazing campsites, the west coast definitely held its own.
Whilst we didn't really hit many tourist hotspots on the way down, there was one that we were told as unavoidable. In a tiny town known as Punakaiki, there are a famous bunch of rocks (yes, rocks) known as Pancake Rocks. Looking like huge stacks of Pancakes they draw the crowds every day. Whilst we did not think this we would be the most exhilarating experience, we had some down time so we decided to swing past.
Whilst the rocks themselves weren't exactly the most thrilling, we found that they actually form giant blowholes. Every time a sizeable wave hits the coast, water would be shot high into the air. This made for some great fun and awesome photos and we ended up staying there for almost an hour.
A big part of the west coast for us was simply the spots we found to sleep each night. With the sun slowly passing down towards the sea, we decided it was time to find somewhere to set up camp for the night. Our adventure began by heading down a winding private road, with some amazing houses (getting a wave from the people inside), until we approached a beach. The first beach we had set foot onto on the west coast, it did not disappoint. The sun still up in the sky we had plenty time to climb giant rocks and get some photos.
Back in the camper we went, actually getting locked in this private road; but with our mad-good skills of undoing a rope barrier, we managed to get out.
Driving further and soon we came to a spot off the highway with enough space to pull over; a spot for the night? There was only one way to know. Climbing down to the beach with Glazer and eventually making it up a giant rock, we could see the further down the coastline seeing that it got even better. Once again back in the camper, our adventure continued.
Trying to find a nearby beach that we had seen in the distance, we found the perfect spot. Pulling off the highway, parking right next to the beach, with a couple steps till we were on the sand. Running into the water, then grabbing our chairs and setting them up on the beach we took some time to chill with coke in hand. After waiting for the sun to slowly descend, and trying to guess whether or not the clouds would decide to stay or go, it finally set over the water, and was well worth it! Heading to the campervan, with the sounds of the waves in the background, we began our feast for the night but were interrupted by a swarm of sandflies that got into the camper. Covered in Aeroguard, doors sealed, an onslaught took place and I can safely say that the sandflies stood no chance.
Driving further down the coast the following day with several stops, we decided to head close towards the glaciers. Deciding we were ready to find a place to stop off and that a water view was a must, we headed down a 25km dirt road towards the coast and a small town. Needless to say there was a magnificent lagoon, one which we couldn't camp by; a camper site, that you had to pay for; and barely 30 people actually in the town. We turned around and headed back to the road. Driving further and we eventually parked off on the side of the road just beside a lake, however the night brought with plenty rain. It gave us a great chance to chill out, kick back with our dinner and a book in hand.
One thing we had written down right at the beginning of our NZ planning was that we had to see the glaciers. Knowing how breathtaking they are from last time I was here, I told the boys we had to go and was met with no complaints. However this time I got to take it up a notch as not only did we see both glaciers but we got to walk on top of one.
This was a day I wont soon forget. Having it booked for the day we arrived, after we got set up at our first campsite in a while (we needed a good shower), we headed over to guiding company (you cant go without one), met our guides, got kitted up and set off to Fox Glacier. Whilst the glacier wasn't as amazing as I remember from last time, the tour took us to some incredible places. Climbing up ice staircases, through ice caves and playing with a giant ice axe were just some of the highlights of the trip. We got to see the glacier in a way you just cant from the bottom. It was absolutely spectacular and 100% worth the hefty price tag.
We also did make the trip to the other glacier Franz Joseph. However after walking on Fox it really didn't compare. Yeh, it was a cool walk and it was nice to see another glacier. But come on. We climbed the other one!
I know it seems short but that really sums up the three days we spent on the west coast. It was quite a slow bunch of days but I loved them all. I know you are all disappointed that this blog hasn't gone on as long as usual but don't worry the next one is going to be my finest work yet.