#TheBigTrip2012: The West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island

(Second part of a series.)

Centre of New Zealand, Nelson

The thing with traveling in NZ is you’re gonna have to take a lot of walks. And long ones. (Well for others who are used to walking, some tracks would seem just short for them). Nelson is where we walked up the geographical “Centre of New Zealand.” To reach the top, it will take 20-60 minutes, depending I guess on your age and fitness.

It was such a relief for me having reached the summit of the small hill of Botanical Reserve. I’m not all excited about long walks uphill. Haha! :P The prize for me was that I get to see the overlooking view of the city and hills and the Tasman Sea.

The West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island

The West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island

The West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island

The West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island

The West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island

The West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island

The West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island

Buller Gorge

It was a two-hour drive from Nelson where we walked the heights of New Zealand’s longest swingbridge in Buller Gorge Swingbridge Adventure and Heritage Park. In here you can do nature walks or ride the Cometline (or zipline) and ride the jet boat along the river. Crossing the swing bridge just suits us. :)

West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island

West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island

West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island

West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island

West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island

West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island

Punakaiki

Punakaiki is located near the Coast Road and going there, you will have one of the best views in coastal drives. Punakaiki is best known for its Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. These are limestone formations that began forming millions of years ago, overlaid by layers and layers of soft mud and clay. When there’s high tide, ocean swells into the caverns beneath the rocks and huge water splashes through the blowholes, which is a really cool sight. Too bad there were no huge swells when we came, but seeing those rocks was really fantastic!

The West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island

The West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island

The West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island

The West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island

The West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island

The West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island

The West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island

The West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island

The West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island

The West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island

The West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island

Hokitika

Some 33km drive from Hokitika, there’s another magnificent granite gorge with milky blue-green pools. This is the Hokitika gorge. To get to the gorge, just follow the signposts from Hokitika from the town and out through the farming areas. (Get ready with your insect repellents though, there are a lot of sand flies here.)

West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island

West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island

West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island

West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island

West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island

West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island

Fox Glacier

This is New Zealand’s Glacier Country, on the South Island’s West Coast. Here you can see the Southern Alps including New Zealand’s highest peaks, Mount Cook (Aoraki) and Mount Tasman (Rarakiroa). At the right conditions, you can get that mirror reflection of the mountains in Lake Matheson. You can opt to do a half hour walk to a 3-day trek depending on your chosen routes. You can also have morning coffee with these mountain backgrounds at the Matheson Café.

We decided to have a walk around the lake one morning and have coffee afterwards. :)

The West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island

The West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island

The West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island

The West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island

The West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island

(Up next: Wanaka and Queenstown.)

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