One biiiig Chunk of Ice!!!!
Trip Start Jan 08, 2011
261Trip End Dec 20, 2011
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The long drive is under way, the views just seem to get better and better, we left Wanaka and over the other side of a mountain seperating the two, we drove alongside lake Hawea, a pefect cool ice blue and
placidly calm, it looked so inviting!!!
That was probably another of the favourite bits of driving, along with the road cut into the mountainside along the lake that meets the dam at cromwell, the road leaving Queenstown heading towards Te Anau and Milford, that was again a beautiful bit of road - well, minus the shocking state its in, it too skirts the lake at Queenstown. The roads here are a long way off from those of Australia, nearly all of what we have driven has been windy, undulating, and climbing and descending mountain ranges and they're in a pretty bad way, bumpy bumpy!!! Another was the road connecting Queenstown with Wanaka, which sharply climbed one of the mountains that Queenstown has as a backdrop
before falling sharply into a plateau, seeing as there were ice likely signs, the snow fall we had seen and the grit or loose gravel on the road at the very top, let's just say although it was fun to drive, glad when we reached the flats!!
Today had more of those in store for us, we were headed northwest on the SH6 towards Haast, and all the way into it the road followed a pretty impressive river, through a rocky narrow valley or gorge, with little waterfalls straight down the rockface and a few times crossing the river by bridge where you got a pretty good look at the ice blue water smashing the rocks. We stopped a few times along the way to look at things the tourist radio was talking about, and can't quite remember when, but on leaving the valley and the river behind it all got kind of tropical all of sudden, we'd reached the "rugged" or the "wild", west coast and it was pretty superb, unlike any rainforest we've seen to date, different colors, different flora and fauna and most oddly of all, tropical wilderness, right along side the likes of fern trees, daisies etc...very strange and very beautiful.
Not far north of Haast, along the coast we pulled up for a stop at knights point, and again, wow, very beautiful, rugged coastline, huge great rocky cliffs and headlands with sheer drop to the ocean, all of this, with the rainforest covering and the beautiful blue ocean made for a nice piccy!!!
Further north again along the coast and slightly inland and we came across Fox Glacier, as the sign told us, along with franz josef glacier, the only two glaciers in south island that reach down, from lofty peaks to rainforest. And just that it did, roadside your surrounded by rainforest, take the glacier turn off and a few kilometres inland and your met with the peaks that house the glacier, and even those have a covering of some very strange looking, primordial, rainforest bush...!!!
As we took the road into it, there's a whole load of little markers that tell you, which year the glacier was at that point, the earliest we saw was 1750, so a few informational signs and a short walk from the parking area and we were clued up on how a glacier "works" and we were met by a great big chunk of ice wedged inbetween two big rocks!! a flowing river and river bed at the base and a few little waterfalls to either side, was great to see it up close.
North again SH6 winding its way inland, following fast flowing rivers of that beautiful coloured water, up slightly, into rainforest covered hillsides, overlooking green fields....?? Doesn't sound right does it?? But anyway, passed through several blips on the map that were born out of the west coast gold rush, shantytown places which hardly looked populated, wouldn't fancy living out there in the middle of back and beyond much!!!
Finally reaching Hokitika, a lot of jade craft work, and artisans , and again another town built on gold originally. The landscapes had changed again, the hills and mountains had given way to the flatter coastline, still dotted with rainforest scrub and bush, we took a walk around ghost town, found a place to camp for the night in the beachside caravan park and took a walk along the beach, in search of jade and gold!!! A beautiful beach in its own right, lots of lumps of driftwood scattered along the beach, black sand and very untouched, not beautiful in the obvious sense but still, it was.
So today, you really do get that sense, if you actually step back and take a look at what you saw, that the scenery is just as "dramatic"as they say it is. We started the day in alpine territory, with lakes, snow covered peaks and fresh air, travelled through untouched rainforest, saw rugged coastlines, then visited a glacier surrounded by rainforest and ended up on a deserted flat coastline that stretched for miles.... Well, well, well.....
Nearly forgot!! Had a great end to the day, as after dark, took a walk to visit a glow worm dell!! It was pretty amazing, and you couldn't take a damn picture to show it!!! You couldn't capture it!!!