New Zealand – Westland (Westport, Hokitika, Franz Josef, Fox Glacier, Lake Matheson, Oparara Basin)

After crossing Arthur’s Pass, we entered the Westland region. Quaint Hokitika welcomed us with its scenic gorge, glow worms and driftwood beach. From there, we hit Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers and got up close and personal with the glaciers on a couple of scenic hikes. After camping at remote Gillespies beach, we were up early for a hike around picturesque Lake Matheson, famous for its beautiful reflections. We drove out of Westland to explore Southland, Otago and Canterbury before swinging back to check out the rugged west coast. Highlights from our second foray into Westland include the Punakaiki pancake rocks and blowholes, Westport’s seal colony at Tauranga Bay, and the remote but stunning Oparara Basin’s arches (Oparara Arch and Moria Arch). Westland may be small but it sure does pack a punch! Our last region of the South Island will be Tasman and Nelson-Marlborough so stay tuned.

Morning view of our Lake Brunner free camp site Shoe fence Curious cow; Hokitika Gorgeous shade of blue at Hokitika Gorge Fantail; Hokitika Gorge Aqua blue Hokitika river winds its way through Hokitika Gorge - a must do if visiting the west coast! An old fire engine outside Hokitika Fire Brigade, which was established in 1865 The iconic Hokitika driftwood sign at sunset Hokitika town clock Fresh live New Zealand greenshell mussels, priced at a bargain $3 per kg Locals patron the bar at the historic Empire Hotel; Ross Historic Empire Hotel - our first paid camp site in NZ with power, shower and kitchen facilities; Ross License plate decor; Ross An eclectic house in Ross Lake Ianthe Waterfall on our hike to Franz Josef glacier Its a 90 minute round trip hike to Franz Josef glacier Selfie on our hike to Franz Josef Glacier Franz Josef Glacier isite tourist info center; Franz Josef Mountain stream on our hike to Fox Glacier Becky stops for a breather on the Fox Glacier hike. Even though it is shorter than the Franz Joseph track, it is much steeper Fox glacier At sunset, we are one of a few cars remaining in the parking lot; Fox Glacier Becky at Lake Matheson's walkway entrance Lake Matheson offers fine views and mirror reflections. It has served as inspiration for countless advertising campaigns. Even this postage stamp couldn't resist the lake's charms! Dewy spider web; Lake Matheson Lake Matheson jetty viewpoint View of views; Lake Matheson Reflection island; Lake Matheson Cascade of ferns; Lake Matheson Mushrooms growing on tree bark; Lake Matheson View of Mt Tasman and Mt Cook, the two highest mountains of New Zealand Cook Saddle Cafe & Saloon; Fox Glacier A possum by the roadside. Despite its cute appearance, possums are a major menace to birdlife in New Zealand! Locals don't hesitate to run them over West coast view Ship Creek Sand dune boardwalk; Ship Creek Ship Creek beach View as we drive towards Haast Pass Stack of rocks near Fantail Falls Robby preparing dinner in our camper van Downtown Reefton Fresh fish sign; Reefton Purple flowers; Reefton Carved tree stumps Rugged west coast Yield to penguins for the next 5 km! New Zealand bellbird, imitating the sound of small bells Bridge leading to Punakaiki pancake rocks Natural gorge at Punakaiki pancake rocks Punakaiki pancake rocks were formed 30 million years ago. They are limestone formations made from dead marine creatures sandwiched by layers of mud and clay Becky at Punakaiki pancake rocks Panorama of Punakaiki pancake rocks Natural arch near Punakaiki rocks Punakaiki tavern Westport Municipal Chambers Circa 1904 Westport public library View from the track leading up to Cape Foulwind lighthouse Cape Foulwind lighthouse Robby by the signpost on the Cape Foulwind walk Fur seals; Cape Foulwind Caution: wekas (bush hens) in the area Robby enjoying some wine with our venison salami and cheese Profile of a weka, which is a cheeky, flightless bird known for stealing food and shiny objects Becky at Oparara Arch; Kahurangi National Park Panorama of Oparara Arch Its a short easy hike to reach Oparara Arch from the parking lot Forest track to visit Moria Gate Arch Light shining through the entrance to Moria Gate Arch Interior of Moria Gate Arch Exterior view of Moria Gate Arch Robby in an old mining cart; Charming Creek Old coal transport; Denniston Coal Mine Kilkenny lookout; Buller River Gorge Maruia Falls foto gallery lightboxby v6.1

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