A quick note on a trip along the west coast of south island of New Zealand. The main attraction here is supposed to be the beautiful drive along the coast and the glaciers either at Fox Glacier or Franz Josef.
My drive start from Mt Cook and it’s supposed to be one of the longest leg of driving in my entire trip. The total distance covered should be ~450km. The drive from Mt Cook, going through Twizel and Lindis Pass was very interesting, scenic and fun driving with winding road and beautiful mountains around.
After Lindis Pass, the road goes through Lake Hawea and this is one of the highlight. It was about 3pm in the afternoon, Lake Hawea was extremely calm and I can see the clear blue sky perfectly reflected on the entire lake. It’s really quite special.
We will soon get to the narrow land area between Lake Hawea and Lake Wanaka (I think it’s called the neck) before going through Mount Aspiring National Park and Haast Pass. I have very high expectation because people say the drive from Haast Pass is one of the best. Oh boy I was very disappointed. I don’t think it’s anything interesting at all, let alone special. It’s pretty boring, except for a small portion of the road, until I get to Greymouth. I think the drive from Greymouth to West Port is one of the best drive I experienced so far. The road is next to the sea, the view is just amazing and there’s the Pancake Rocks! Interesting rock formation with easy access.
Lewis Pass from West Port to Christchurch was actually quite nice. It’s a shame I couldn’t go through the more popular Arthur Pass due to rock fall that day.
I did a heli hike with Fox Glacier Guiding and while it’s not bad, it’s definitely doesn’t worth the pricing. The heli ride was barely 5 mins, and there’s really not much to see from the air! The walk is okay for the duration.
Stopped by Hokitika because it’s supposed to have one of the best sunset in NZ. I think it’s overrated. We actually had a pretty clear sky that day, but I’ve seen better, bigger sunset. The Hokitika sign on the beach that lots of people use to take sunset photo is unique though.
I spent roughly half a day in Christchurch. The city is still rebuilding from the devastating earthquake in 2012, so there’s lots of construction going on. I tried the tram ride (I love tram!), the river boating and visited the botanical garden, the Canterbury museum and the Antarctica center.
If I were to do it again, I will give Fox Glacier and Franz Josef a pass. The better route would be to go from Mt Cook to Christchurch, then off to Kaikoura, take the Arthur Pass to Greymouth and enjoy the scenic drive to Westport and then up to Abel Tasman National Park before finishing up in Blenheim / Picton.