The Wild Wild West

What an adventure driving from Wanaka to Franz Josef… especially in stormy weather and with the fuel light on about 80kms out of Haast and no fuel stations until Fox Glacier (were glad to see the fuel stations -even with petrol being $2.20 /litre).

After checking into the YHA Backpackers we headed straight for the Franz Josef Thermal Hot Pools. It was extra relaxing sitting in the hot water with the rain coming down.

Little did we know, the rainfall was quite a bit more than usual… The following morning, we were all geared up and ready to hike up to the glacier – but the track was closed due to the bridge being washed out and part of the track with it. We still got to walk part of the track and some of the cloud lifted for a bit for the glacier to peak through…

We decided to head for the coast, where the sun was shining. We found ourselves absorbing the sun along with the heat from the pebbles and black sand on Okarito beach. There were also plenty of birds near the shoreline. The water had turned grey from the storm the night before. After laying on the beach for a while we thought we better energy up and hike the trig track for a view of the surrounding area…

Before leaving Franz Josef we backtracked to Fox Glacier to walk around Lake Matheson. This was a pleasant 1.5hour walk in the bush around the lake with lots of scenic lookouts at the mountains and glaciers – although there were still lots of clouds around but we did get a few sneaky clear windows…

Further up the road we stayed in an airbnb just out of Hokitika. It was a rural retreat with an outdoor toilet and shower looking out at the cows and sheep. Very well equipped and a nice little home – but we only booked it for the one night. For the evening we headed into Hokitika to try and find pounamu (green stone – jade) on the main beach. We found quite a few green stones – don’t think they’re the real deal though. However, we stumbled across a night market and bought some more fresh stone fruit and cherries. There was also a driftwood sculpture exhibition at the beach…

On our way up the west coast we stopped at another beach to have another go at looking for some pounamu – found some nice looking rocks. However, Kadin was more excited when he spotted the blackberries growing on the side of the road – so we spent a bit of time picking the ripe ones (another few weeks would have been better)…

Our next stop was Pancake Rocks…

Feeling hungry we stopped for lunch in Westport, then realised we still had another 4 hours to drive before our next nights accommodation up in the Golden Bay – so we hit the windy roads, following the bendy rivers…

Buller River

Have fun at work!

Gemma

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