South Island – West coast

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Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » West Coast
February 13th 2020
Published: March 6th 2020
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On the way back to shore the Captain from our Doubtful Sound Cruise asked with interest where everyone was going next. After we all elaborated on our travel plans, he just laughed at us all and went: “Not today, you’re not!” It turned out that while we had had mainly dry weather while out on the water, the water had been pouring down on the other side of the mountains. The wind was coming from the east (instead of the more common westerly winds) and trapped the clouds on the other side. As a result, pretty much every road was closed. We could not go north, east or south, and to the west we only the sounds. We were meant to go to Queenstown that afternoon, but were forced to stay for an extra night in Te Anau. The next morning, we were able to drive out in a convoy at 7 am. We were lucky, though, compared to the thousands of people who were booked in to visit the more famous Milford Sound. That road had been damaged so badly that it was scheduled to be closed for a week or more.

We had heard a lot about Queenstown and how busy it has become in recent years. Our main aim there was to try Luge (Ollie’s Birthday present) and I had given Nick a tandem parasail for Christmas. Both a huge success! The area is amazing with even more beautiful views. South Islands is just crazy, you turn a corner, and there’s another mountain range and another gorgeous lake. I never really got used to it, but just kept getting swept away.

From there on we drove out to the wild west coast, and did a few stops along the way, heading in a loop back north. It’s not super safe to swim in the ocean as currents and tides are crazy. Drowning accident in New Zealand are unfortunately not uncommon. To we kept a safe distance and watched the sunsets, played in the sand, and went exploring inland instead. We saw Franz Josef Glacier, and how it had consistently shrunk in size over the past 150 years. We visited Hokitika Gorge with milky turquoise water and went to a place to see the famous Kiwi bird. They’re odd creatures, and a testament to how different the nature in New Zealand has developed because of the lack of land-based predators for the majority of history. Now a few have been introduced and is threatening a lot of the native animal life. But it’s evident to see how much work goes into the conservation and protection of endangered species everywhere in the country.

We had been living quite closely with other people since our Oamaru stay. We always had our own place to sleep, but we had ended up in a few backpacker like placed with super crowded and busy kitchens, and it was wonderful to finish our stay at a newly built campground with few guests and far between the cabins. We could all breath again, and we took time to just relax, drink coffee in the sun and spend A LOT of time at the camp playground.

There had been children in many of the places we had stayed, and it’s great to see how the ability to start communicating has developed for both Ollie and Alba. Especially coming to the realisation that if you play the shy game for an hour or two, you may have missed out on precious play time, as often people only stay in the same place for a day or two. So, although we’re also doing some school work along the way, the social learning you get travelling like this cannot be underestimated.

South Island treated us very well – but we were all looking forward to the warmer temperatures and calmer oceans of the North Island, so it was with excitement that we boarded the ferry to cross the Cook straight for the second time.

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