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New Zealand - West Coast of the South Island

We followed the Buller River from Nelson Lakes and stopped at the Buller Gorge Swing bridge to take a walk on the opposite bank. I got ready and we headed off. Half-way across the bridge my Senior Moment was boot and one trainer. A photo and a walk of shame before continuing.

On the west coast, we stopped at Westport, which had some great looking Art Deco buildings and drove to Carters Beach where we camped for the night.

We re-entered Kahurangi National Park, this time in the south and took a longish forest walk to the beautiful Moira Arch. We camped at Kohaihai Conservation Camp at the mouth of the Kohaihai River and overlooking the beach. It was the perfect place for the sunset and there was plenty of driftwood for a large campfire, but we left that to others... we were starting to feel the winter temperatures.

The following morning, we took a hike along the river and out to Scotts Beach. This is the start/end of (depends which way you travel) the Heaphy Track. The track is an up and down 4 to 5 day walk. I was quite happy with our 3 hour taster, which provided us with stunning views of the coastline to the north. Some of the walkers we saw finishing the full walk looked a little weary.

We drove the Great Coast Road south, encountering fur seals on the rocky shores and came across a goat that may have hankered after a mountain peak. Sadly its only high ground was its back-yard trailer.

Next up were the Pancake Rocks, Punakaiki at the edge of the Paparoa National Park. We swore we'd been here before, but our memories have faded since 1994. This landmark can't have changed that much in the intervening years! The weather was a little miserable, but the walkway along the top of the rocks with the sea crashing in was pretty impressive.

Moving on, we looked around Hokitika, which had several impressive old buildings, but as it was a rainy, miserable day we drifted south, stopping in hope of sightings of Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. A walk along the valley gave us a brief glimpse of Franz Josef, but deteriorating conditions meant a view of Fox wasn't on the cards. We've seen both in the past, so it wasn't too much of a disappointment.

Continuing south, we stopped briefly at Knights Point for the spectacular coastal views. We then stopped at Ship Creek to walk through a handsome swamp forest of Kahikatea.

Before heading East through Haast Pass, we dropped a little further South to see Jackson Bay. This beautiful bay with a backdrop of snowy peaks was an ideal picnic spot. There was also a nice little walk with the possibility of seeing penguins.

No joy with the birds, but the lunch was great.

It was time for the Haast Pass. We were heading into the mountains and hoping for snow.


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