Our next destination was meant to be Wanaka's bigger sibling: Queenstown. However a large snow storm that was hitting Queenstown and the southern region was threatening to cause road closures for a few days. Since we could not afford to get stuck so far away from Christchurch with only a handful of days left on our trip, we decided to head to the west coast a day earlier.
We set off for a day trip all the way to Frank Joseph Glacier, halfway up the south island, right on the west coast.
The road over Haast pass was incredible! Definitely the most scenic road we have see so far in the south island, and that's saying something! Mountain lakes followed snowy peaks and green hills, to then uncovered planes of native bushes on a road that seemed carved for driving pleasure!
The west coast is a completely different place to what we have seen so far in the rest of the south island. It is covered by rain forests that reach the massive wild beaches of the pacific ocean.
When we got hungry we stopped for lunch at a random location along the road for some tasty pasta al sugo cooked in the campervan. The place we stopped at was called Ship's Creek, a beach where the remains of a 1850's ship were found. Without knowing it we had stopped in what I consider one of the most enchanting places I have ever seen. The beach had some very fine grey sand and pebbles closer to the ocean. The ocean was massive and frightening, with huge waves constantly crashing down pushed by strong winds that were also blowing sand everywhere. Feeding the ocean, a creek separated the beach from the rain forest which went up high on a steap hill overlooking the sea. In the distance I could still see all the high peaks, which we had driven through, all covered in snow.
To accompany all of this, the weather was constantly changing from rain to sunshine, to massive black clouds dominating the horizon to clear skies, all within minutes.
We walked up and down Ship's Creek for a couple of hours and did not want to leave until a hale storm forced us back to the caravan.
What an incredible place. I imagine this is what many places around the world looked like thousands of years ago.
Sometimes you find the best places just by accident!