Saturday, April 7, 2012

west coast

From Wanaka, we drove over the Southern Alps through Haast Pass to get to the rugged West Coast of the South Island.  In New Zealand, the prevailing winds come from the west, so the West Coast gets a lot of rain (up to 7-8 meters in some places), which makes for densely forested mountains and coasts.  The drive through Haast Pass is beautiful, and Lonnie, the kids, and I had done part of the drive during our trip a year ago.  This time, we ended up with rainy weather during our drive this year, so the views were a bit obscured.  Even so, misty mountains and waterfalls were still a highlight of the drive.

Arriving at the town of Haast on the coast, we drove north to Franz Josef and stayed in a holiday home located in the forest.  The holiday home was really nice, but Patsy was a bit disturbed when we found a little furry friend (mouse) that Lynne and Lonnie sent to its grave.

Franz Josef is little tourist town located next to Westland Tai Poutini National Park.  The tourist attractions in this area are Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers.  We hadn't visited this part of NZ yet, and Lonnie was particularly excited to see the glaciers.  Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers are notable because the glaciers extend from frozen alpine areas at the top to subtropical rain forest at the bottom.  It was awesome to do short hikes up valleys with rocky bottoms and forested mountains with waterfalls cascading off cliffs and then see glaciers extending up steep valleys.  We ended up a pretty good rainstorm while we were in Franz Josef, so we had to squeeze in the hikes in between the heavy rains.

From Franz Josef, we drove north to Greymouth.  Along the way, we stopped at a nature center in Hokitika.  The nature center had a kiwi exhibit, and fortunately the kiwis came out while we were there.  The nature center also had a really cool eel exhibit with eels that are 6-8 fee long and over 100 years old.

After a night in Greymouth, we drove north to Westport.  Along the way, we stopped at Punakaiki, which has a place called the Pancake Rocks and a great little nature trail.  We also stopped at Cape Foulwind where there is a seal colony.  From the viewpoint at Cape Foulwind, we saw the seals and even spotted a couple dolphins swimming offshore.  From Westport, we drove through the mountains to get to Nelson.

Next to the Blue Pool along the Haast Pass highway.  Unfortunately, the pool wasn't blue because of all the rainwater.
Fox Glacier in the background.  Maya was tired of hiking and felt the need to pout a bit.
Franz Josef Glacier in the background.
Trent has great big smiles to share.
Spot along the coast where people had written their names on these white rocks.  We added ours.
Along the trail to Franz Josef Glacier.
Glacier + cliffs + waterfalls = awesome!
Along the trail to Franz Josef Glacier.
Rocky beach near Okarito, which is 30 minutes from Franz Josef.
Trent chillin' on a concrete couch at a beach in Hokitika.
Driftwood sculptures at a beach in Hokitika.
Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki.
Grumpy Max...
turning a bit happier.
Sign at Cape Foulwind.
Trent really likes to go on hikes in the sling.
Smiley Maya
Along the trail at Cape Foulwind.
Trail at Cape Foulwind.


  1. These photos are beautiful and so is your family! Glad you are having fun over there!

    1. Thanks Debi. Max and Maya are getting more and more fun the older they get. In some ways having twins is easier at this point. They entertain each other while I take care of Trent. There isn't much easier about twins (other than cute photos) but we are having a lot of fun.