After a wet day in Franz Joesph we woke up to brillant blue sky, no clouds and about 18 degrees, so it was full steam a head with the helicopter flight. This was something we had always wanted to do and we decided to do it to celebrate our engagement. What an amazing experience, the sceneary was out of this world with snow capped mountains, the lake, the beach and the glacier. We were up for 30 minutes in total crossing the Franz Joesph Glacier, the Fox Glacier and an amazing view of Mount cook and Mount Tasmin, the helicopter ride itself was also amazing fun. We touched down on the snow capt mountains for about 10 mins and took in the breath taking scenary, before heading back down. It's definatly one of the best things we have ever done.
We then drove on to Hokitika through the gold minning towns, this is the Jade capital of the NZ so after picking up some gifts for people at home we headed to the DOC campsite right next to Lake Mahinapua. The next day we took advantage of the weather and hung out at the lake and then the beach before we headed north to Greymouth. The road to Greymouth was yet another interesting one as we shared the road with the train track as well as crossing over loads of unmanned tracks. There was one point were Chops had to give way and sit sweating on a track and pray for no train until the cars from the other direction had stopped (not a driving error I might add- it was just what you had to do). There was also the coastal road with tons of surf (sadly over rocks, so not safe) but it was amazing to drive up.
There wasnt much to Greymouth and the temperature had risen to 24 with no wind so we headed to Paparoa National Park. After checking out the pancake shaped rocks (caused by corrosion from sea water- its pretty amazing), we headed to the Punakaiki river and opted to kayak up steam for a few hours. This was amazing fun with beautiful scenary, we also got to kayak down steam on the way back, which was a nice break. We ended the day on the beach watching the sun set (probably the best one we had witnessed yet) and a cheeky drink in a quirky little bar.
The next day we headed to the blow wholes at high tide, which had a 8 to 10 foot wave smashing through the rocks and creating a very cool effect, which we watched for quite sometime. We then hit the road and headed to Westport, after a quick stop for lunch and deciding there wasnt much to see we also decided that we had travelled as far north on the west coast as we were going to, so it was time to head south then east. We made it as far as the springs junction before stopping for the night in a free DOC site by a river (Deer Valley), fitting in a quick trek up a near vertical mountain.
We are now in Hamner Springs, today we went mountain biking through the forrest, which was challanging, but fun! We then chilled out in the Thermal Pools, which is a fun water park, especially the slides :). Tomorrow we are heading to the east coast to try and find some surf, before we head back to Christchurch say good bye to the van and goodbye to this most amazing country :(. This will be such a sad day though it means its time for OZ and that cant be bad can it? When we get to Melbourne we will be spending the first 5/6 days driving the great ocean road and camping in our tent (which we picked up free). We then head to Bells Beach to meet one of Chops best mates and watch the World Surfing Competition for a few days..... this is very exciting stuff!