Geo: -41.7581, 171.602
I can feel the wind blowing through my hair – all ¾ of an inch of it - as the skies clear up and we hit the rugged west coast of the South Island. We are scooting up the coast, staying one night at each location until we get to the point at which we head slightly inland and north. It is exhilarating, freeing, joyful! We have had a run of glorious sunshine and cool breezes and all we do is drive, locate a walk or two to view various landscapes and stunning vistas and stay in unique and friendly backpacker hostels. Our favourites are Global Village and Beaconstone Eco Lodge. I now ask each hostel if they have a cat (to which I am intensely allergic), guiding our decisions about places to stay. A lot of them have cats! Apparently, New Zealanders have the most cats per capita in the world (source: someone in a hostel).
The early evening stop and straight to bed at Fox Glacier enabled us to get up for a dawn walk at the infamous Lake Matheson where morning light creates fabulous reflections of Mount Cook and Mount Tasman. What is usually a 1.5 hour
walk took us about 3 hours as we both photographed the incredible views of the rainforest, the lake and the mountains. After a delicious made-by-us breakfast of French toast with NZ honey, we headed out for a hike to Fox Glacier. Although it was fascinating and we were close up to it, it didn't have the kind of beauty we encountered at the Rob Roy Glacier.
Next stop – Greymouth. After an hour at McDonalds where one can access free internet (thank you Mickey D) we checked into Global Village, a delightfully decorated and welcoming spot. We met our first fellow Canadian Maritimers from New Brunswick here! Early the next morning, we did a bit of a detour heading inland to Lake Brunner where we encountered one of the most beautiful rainforests brimming over with ferns.
Onward to Punakaiki Rocks and blowholes at high tide where the Tasman Sea crashes with gusto on these interestingly layered, weathered rocks. Then Beaconstone Eco Lodge became our home for two nights with solar energy, compost toilets, cotton/wool futons, wool pillows and many other ecological features to this very special spot. We tried out Jack's (Gasthof) delicious German sourdough bread and were ready to backtrack the
next day to buy a loaf but the $15/loaf charge was too dear for us! Walks down the Nile River and out to the Seal Colony were highlights in this area.
Beaconstone and the surrounding area was rejuvenating for us and we could actually feel some warmth in the wind as we continue north. Is summer coming?!
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