Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Cromwell to Franz Josef

I'm on the homeward stretch now. Had to choose between spending more time exploring Central Otago, or having a quick look at family-related places on the West Coast, and the Coast won.

I remember taking the Haast Pass road many years ago when the section beside Lake Wanaka was metal, narrow, and somewhat scary to drive along. But it has all been well upgraded since then.

I loved seeing the heads of both Lake Hawea and Lake Wanaka. Both seemed so peaceful and atmospheric. First, a photo of Lake Hawea:

Now the head of Lake Wanaka, with just a few fishermen around.

It was a day with lots of little walks to waterfalls, as I passed from the dry eastern side of the Main Divide to the west coast. Here's one with a man standing on a rock to give you an idea of how tall this waterfall is.

With fine weather, it seemed no time at all before I was on the West Coast,

and I enjoyed seeing the Haast a River grow as I moved down the valley. The Haast region gets such high rainfall, it was a surprise to see the river so 'gentle'.

Here it is at the Gates of Haast, constrained by big mountain rocks.

Just a little side issue- I loved the look of this trunk that has been cut down.

Today the river was so gentle I could easily stand under a bridge where it flowed.

Once I reached Haast, I took the coastal road south until just after Okuru. There I took the Hapuka Estuary Walk, and learned a lot. Okuru is still a major area for whitebaiting. And it seems that a major reason for that is that they never cleared the kowhai trees or drained the swamp. So the young whitebait still have perfect conditions for their growth. Kowhai trees drop leaves etc that help other things to thrive in the estuary.
The road north from Haast was largely 'accompanied' by native forest. At one place there was a viewpoint over these rocks.

And at another beach it has obviously become the thing to do to write on white rocks, mostly with black vivid so it seems, and leave them piled up on the bank above.

I have arrived at Franz Josef for the night, and when I hit here I wasn't sure if I could get my tent up before the rain arrived.

But now the skies have cleared somewhat, and you can get a glimpse of the Southern Alps.




  1. What a wonderful adventure you have had in your own country! We don't do that often enough. If I followed your trip properly, you were mainly on the west side of Souuth Islamd. I have been reading The Luminariies by Eleanor Caton and My understanding is that the story takes place on the east side of South Island.

    1. Not much on the West Coast at all, but tonight I am staying just north of Hokitika, which is where her story is based!

  2. Love all those beautiful pics Margaret - and that coast is not that dissimilar to home eh? And I too love the tree trunk....so intricate. Did you write on a rock also? I hope you did. I just keep wondering what you could do with all these beautiful photos and interesting info...I think Paddy's idea is a good one - wonder how you could do this....do you have any contacts at Fairfax - or what about your local rag or a South Island paper or ....I'm thinking but am sure you will have some better ideas. It's too beautiful and too useful not to share with a wider audience. Enjoy the coast - I think you made a great choice!

    1. I did not write on a Quartz Rock Heidy! Leave them on the beach I say! I will put photos on Flickr when I get home, and will use them with my class. Poor kids. Yellow -eyed penguins- they will be studying whether they want to or not!

  3. Wow Margaret, what joy you bring to so many with your posts and photos! What an awesome trip today! Sometimes I am completely taken by surprise with the contrasts within our tiny country! You sure have experienced some MAGICAL spots! Thanks again for sharing!

    1. Wait until you read about my Fault Line Exposed tour today from Whataroa. Your mind will be blown!