Going South: the West Coast

Things we learned: The long way down

There are wonderful podcasts on New Zealands radio stations (www.radionz.co.nz). One we listened to on the long driving bits in NZ is “The long way home”. 67 year old Bruce Hopkins is walking the Te Araroa trail, a 3000km trail that goes all the way from the Cape Reinga to Bluff, the whole length of New Zealand.

It is a wonderful portrait of the trail, new Zealanders in general and Bruce Hopkins, a Kiwi actor who transports his fathers and brothers ashes through the country he calls home.

With a great sense of humor he tells many stories from his old times working on fishing trawlers with his dad and brother, interviews other trampers and talks to people he meets on the road.

A great way to experience NZ by means of listening. Highly recommended.

Stuff we saw:

Stuff we did:

We followed the road through the hills along the Buller River. The road followed the river in a wonderful gorge and later a broad valley. Cape Foulwind is known for a nice walk along the along the cliffs and some fur seals. But when we arrived a massive thunderstorm with thunder and lightning started and so we looked for the closest campsite to rent a cabin for the night. It rained and stormed the whole night.

The next day we approached the hike and had fun watching the seals hanging around on the rocks. The sea was wild, torn up from the strong winds.

Sometimes the sun finds a little hole in the clouds and we get hot immediately. It is a strange mix of weather we have these days.

We follow down the coast, with many stops and lookouts to watch the waves clashing the beaches and rocks.

There are many wonderful sites here and we enjoy seeing them with the roaring winds and high waves of the sea.

We stay overnight at Hokitika and continue to Franz-Joseph and Fox Glacier. We don’t see anything of the mountains here, as the clouds are very low now. Just one morning in Fox Glacier we get a view for a few minutes before the clouds form quickly to cover these wonderful white covered mountains.

We leave the coast to follow the Makarora River upstream and find a nice campsite for the night, after we have been chased away by hundreds of sandflies on two other campsites which would have been quite annoying and potentially itchy.

There were strong winds forecasted and we found them. On Lake Wanaka, one of the big southern lakes in NZ we enjoyed the blasts of wind while walking the shore of the lake on a little picnic area. We continued to the town of Wanaka and did a little hike in the evening, knowing, that for the next 2 days the weather was about to get be pretty bad. We pitched our tent next to the lake on a campsite 15 min outside Wanaka.

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