Soggy Dreams of Postcard Peaks
21.11.2009 - 01.12.2009
The drive south from Westport to Hast pass has been said to be one of the top ten scenic drives in the world. We allowed 5 days to slowly make our way down the coast to fully soak it all in in all it’s glory. The northern west coast resembles Big Sur and the California coastline with powerful surf torturing the rocky coastline. The high snow caped peaks, including NZ’s highest, Mount Cook, hang out right over the ocean. Nowhere else on earth can glaciers of such size be found so close to the ocean as in Franz Joseph and Fox Glacier. Many excellent tracks make their way steeply inland including the Copland Track up to Welcome Flats were you can soak in thermal hot pools right outside a backcountry hut. You may think the pictures above are good enough to be postcards and, well, they are. The west coast lived up to its reputation of being cold and wet and the icy grip of rain clouds never let us admire these lofty peaks. Many hours spent in the damp van lead to an irresistible urgent to flee the west for better weather.
Get Me Out of this Van!!!!
Penguin Crossing! Penguins brave the rocky coast and the pounding surf to nest in the trees along this road. I guess they also take up residence under peoples homes.
Rain - Fill in the lyrics to your favorite song about the rain.
We enjoyed ourselves despite the rain and followed the tourist train of coach busses and campervans into Punakaiki. At high tide with a swell just so the Pancake rocks come alive with numerous blow holes. The rocks are called pancakes due to there layered look. Apparently geologists don’t have a great explanation to the cause of the this rare formation. We timed our arrival at the park with high tide and were not disappointed.
Unable to shake the beaten path, not many roads to choose from. We followed the coast to Franz Joseph and Fox Glaciers. These glaciers are unique to their proximity to the coast and it was a bit surreal to walk through super lush temperate rain forest to huge masses of ice. Unfortunately we weren’t the only ones with that idea and as we walked slowly in and out a people the view of Franz Joseph we had a first big taste of the number of tourists that visit this place each year. We must have arrived with the tour buses because the place was hopping. Glaciers I am sure are truly magnificent if one had the time, expertise and money to explore the ice, (their certainly were pricey tours) but viewing from afar they appear as a piles of dirty snow.
Trail to overlook of Fox Glacier