South Island West Coast

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October 20th 2016
Published: October 20th 2016
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We are now working our way up the west coast having left Wanaka which was difficult as I thought it is my perfect home. It has a large lake to kayak in that is warm enough for swimming in summer, ski fields to keep me amused all winter, nice bars and restaurants and a lovely community cinema. We had a trip to the cinema before we left to watch Infetno ( ho hum even Tom Hanks can't really save this). The screen room seated about 80 and it was mostly mismatched 2 seater sofas, a few standard chairs and 2 vintage Morris cars with modified back seats - bonkers but lovely! Homemade ice cream and homemade biscuits at the intermission too which was a rather clumsy stop point.
Anyway we tore ourselves away and drove up through the Haast pass and on up the coast - fabulous scenery everywhere. We stopped and walked to the the Blue Pools - they weren't, but it was a nice walk.
We did a freedom camp in a car park in torrential rain and were most amused as van after van arrived after us. In the morning the weather was better so we cracked on to the Franz Joseph glacier to do the walk up to see the snout which was about 5km. Well it was pretty good as it stopped raining and the clouds parted just as we got there. Just great!
Then we continue up and stopped to visit the Whataroa River and gorge- promised to be a clear and remarkable blue - it wasn't ,but it was a nice lunch stop.
Finally we took a long drive off to see the Hokitika Gorge where once again promised blue waters were milky grey but we got to see a Weka with 3 chicks so that made up for it.
We found a lovely ocean front freedom camp spot and listened to the waves and then the relentless rain all night. One couple had arrived on bikes presumably with a tent, we felt bad for them as it was awful in the morning and just lashed.
So in the morning we drove a short distance to the pancake rocks in Punakaika which are an unusual limestone formation that have been eroded and weathered to some fabulous shapes.
From there we headed north to Ngakawau and then did the Charming Creek walk along the disused coal and timber railway. There were lots of bits of old railway , a couple of tunnels and a waterfall - 10km of lovely walking and sometimes it stopped raining. We then drove more stunning coastal and rainforest jungle roads to arrive at Karamea where we have camped at a proper campsite with showers as there is only so much you can do with wet wipes!
From here we hope to see the gates of Moria then we have to go down before we can go up to the north coast and Golden Bay, still so much to see.

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