While pregnant with Pickle, we decided to take a road trip around the West and East Coasts of the South Island. Tiny was 21-months-old, and a brilliant traveller, and even though I was suffering from severe morning sickness, we hoped it would subside during our trip (it didn’t). Despite feeling rubbish, I loved our trip; the memories of the beauty of the West Coast is enough to distract from the memories of spending a lot of time visiting public conveniences 😉
Haast and the Haast Pass
I have memories of taking a day trip to Haast from Wanaka when I was a child; I was too small and a very poor swimmer, and I watched as my brother and our cousins swam in The Blue Pools. I was terrified of crossing the swing bridge; my brother thought it would be hilarious to jump and may the bridge sway when I finally took a few tentative steps. Despite this, I have very fond memories of this area, and can vividly recall the stunning, rugged landscape.
The Twin Glaciers
Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier are not to be missed if you’re travelling through this part of New Zealand. These frozen rivers are spectacular sights; from memory, Fox is slightly more impressive that Franz Josef…which is saying a lot, because Franz Josef is pretty awesome! Sadly, the glaciers have been slowly receding thanks to climate change, but they are still breathtaking.
As a town, Hokitika isn’t terribly exciting, but it is a good place to be based for exploring Westland, and visiting Shantytown. Located about 40 minutes north of Hokitika, Shantytown is a recreated, interactive gold mining village. Tiny loved it. L-O-V-E-D-loved it. Riding on the steam train was an obvious highlight, but he was really intrigued by the gold panning too. Also worth a visit is Lake Kaniere, a lovely spot for a picnic lunch. However – sandflies and mosquitoes will be out in force, and if you visit while pregnant…well, let’s just say I cut our lunch short after being attacked by the wee biters!
The Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki are one of my favourite places in New Zealand. These limestone stacks of stones are millions of years old, and they are amazing to behold. There is a walkway between the rocks and the blowholes, and as the ocean crashes into the cliffs, the pressure creates huge “explosions” of water to erupt through the naturally-formed gaps. The short bush walk to the main pathway is pretty, and full of birdlife.