Shanty Town

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Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » Greymouth
January 25th 2011
Published: March 14th 2011EDIT THIS ENTRY

Total Distance: 0 miles / 0 kmMouse: 0,0

Punakaiki to Fox Glacier

West Coast SceneryWest Coast SceneryWest Coast Scenery

Road to Greymouth, West Coast. © Adrianne Yzerman
Firstly, thank you to my cousin Marilyn for making me realise there are actually people out there reading my blog and as a result, inspiring me to continue with my retrospect blogging!

We could afford to relax a bit, so we slept in and spend the morning giving the Weka bird breakfast, who by this stage figured out we weren’t axe murderers and could be trusted enough to bring its offspring along this time. I feel a bit guilty about feeding the native wildlife, but the Weka isn’t endangered so I could justify my actions to myself. By this stage the kids had find a little buddy in the next unit, so while we pack up they run around trying to find the Weka’s nest. Hubby and I hop in the car and pick up the kids on the way out. Unbeknown to us Lleyton didn’t have his thongs (flip flops, jandals or whatever you like to call them in your country) on when he gets into the back of the car. They are left in the front lawn of our unit. Of course when you’re travelling this can be a disaster of epic proportions if these are your only
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Weka bird in our front yard. © Adrianne Yzerman
footwear. This extremely lucky for us because, one, he had a pair of closed in shoes, and two, we realise the situation before heading to Greymouth which is a major centre. Son number 1 treads barefooted into Countdown and where we buy another pair. It turned out to be quite a hot day so it’s good that we managed to get some and wear them straight away without too much fuss. The Rough Guide told us there was little reason to stay in Greymouth, but I think the writers are being a bit harsh. I wouldn’t have minded staying here. We only stayed in Punakaiki so as to not make the travelling day even longer.

There is spectacular scenery along the coast to Greymouth but it’s frustrating for the photographer as there are always cars (usually other tourists) directly behind us and it isn’t safe to stop suddenly. There is also limited places to stop as well when the road hugs the cliff edge most of the time. About 10 minutes south of Greymouth is Shanty Town, a replica 1880s West Coast gold-mining settlement. It was mostly built in the 1970s but also incorporates salvaged older buildings which have
Boys in replica mine shaftBoys in replica mine shaftBoys in replica mine shaft

Shanty Town. © Adrianne Yzerman
been tastefully restored. We arrived at 1100hrs. At 1130hrs the 1887 steam train leaves for its short journey up from the town and passing a mine site and a saw mill. The settlement even includes China Town complete with a real vege garden to sell in the Chinese ‘shop’. There are boards on the walk to the saw mill with interesting stories about local identities and legends during the gold rush. There is plenty to see in the actual town with old fashioned post office, printing press, doctors, a photograph shop where you can have your photo taken in period dress, black smith, fire station, stables, bank, railway station, waterwheel etc. Of course my youngest son, at only eight, already wants to be a miner and is pretty excited finding real gold in his pan.

By about 1400hours I am getting pretty anxious about moving on to Fox Glacier. We are quickly running out of time, so we gulp down some lunch at the picnic tables at the car park. On the road again at 1430, it’s much later than I want to be as, once again, goodness knows how long it is going to take and what kinds
Me at replica pubMe at replica pubMe at replica pub

Shanty Town. © Adrianne Yzerman
of road we’ll encounter. The coastal scenery petered out a bit and wasn’t as spectacular as before Greymouth and lucky for us there are also straight roads for most of the journey excepting the last 50km. This stretch of road was incredibly remote and it comes as a surprise. I thought many towns in the wheatbelt were pretty remote, but here there are so many people living at least 150km from the nearest shop or school from what I could see. The road sidles up close to the Southern Alps most of the way as we pass dairy farms and more sheep. Brendan drove most of the way and was getting tired, so I took over in the last 50km. The thing is I was pretty tired also from Brendan’s snoring last night, not to mention his bloody phone that keeps going off all night just as I’m about to fall asleep (people keep calling him from our time zone!). It’s hard for me to feel alert as I’m negotiating sharp bends and the slow going at 25km/hour most of the time, particularly the 21km from Franz Joseph to Fox Glacier. I tried to book into Franz Joseph months ago
The boys pan for goldThe boys pan for goldThe boys pan for gold

Shanty Town. © Adrianne Yzerman
but couldn’t get any accommodation there, so I had to settle for Fox Glacier. The guide book does say that the town of Fox Glacier is smaller and as a result has a quainter feel to it, so I’m glad that Franz Joseph was booked out. There’s no way I’m back tracking all those winding roads just to see both of the Glaciers as I had entertained thoughts of prior to coming here. Because the road was straight most of the way, we arrive a bit earlier than anticipated and settle into our accommodation, another nice 2 bedroom cabin. The boys play in the park for a bit while Brendan cooks bangers and mash. Afterwards we decide to go for coffee and cake for dessert, but the whole town had moved onto dinner and expensive desserts menus. Instead we got an icecream from the deli and went onto Lake Matheson, a short drive from the town.

Lake Matheson is a prominent feature on many postcards and calendars because of the Mt cook and Mt Tasman’s fantastic reflections in the lake. Of course that only applies if you are there on a nice sunny still day, which it isn’t as it has now turned overcast. Once again I have to resign myself that I am not going to get a magazine cover shot. From here I am pretty excited to see part of the glacier which we aren’t able to see from town or our accommodation. Not realising there is still a 40 minute walk from the car park to the actual lake, I only had my thongs on. I had to walk in them which makes for some very sore toe webbing after a while, but nothing gets in the way of an optimistic photographer. This is a world heritage area and as a result the walk there is stunning, more stunning if I wasn’t in such a rush to get to the lake before the quality of light isn’t totally ruined. The family walks while I run a marathon over a suspension bridge across a rocky river where some cows are grazing and then through amazing rainforest. It’s quite dark by the time I get there, so I’m going to have to Photoshop the heck out of the photos to make them look just reasonable. It’s quite late by the time we get back to town and we
Lake MathesonLake MathesonLake Matheson

Photoshopped to death. © Adrianne Yzerman
pass out once again in a tired induced slumber thanks to day light savings.


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