Posts Tagged ‘West Coast’

December 2nd and 3rd: Wild West Coast

December 10, 2008
The flightless and incredibly friendly weka, which we spotted on the side of the road.

The flightless and incredibly friendly weka, which we spotted on the side of the road.

Despite rain and ever-cloudy skies, we enjoyed driving up the West Coast, whch is known for being some of the most untamed and remote land in the country. We stopped roadside for more than a few pictures of the craggy coastline.

The tall flowering plant in the left foreground is the native New Zealand flax, which is everywhere.

The tall flowering plant in the left foreground is the native New Zealand flax, which is everywhere.

Monteith’s Beer is a homegrown label that is quite proud to be brewed on the South Island’s West Coast, and we got a chance to tour its brewery. The tour ended with us sampling the full line of seven different beers — an odd favorite was the ginger and rata honey-flavored Summer Ale.

Jonathan pours his own pint at the brewery's bar.

Jonathan pours his own pint at the brewery's bar.

Still taking in the natural wonders of the West Coast, we spent a day caving in the Ananui Creek Caves.

Becky, Jonathan, and thousands of years of limestone growth.

Becky, Jonathan, and thousands of years of limestone growth.

Not only was the hike through the caves fantastic, the lower levels of the caverns are home to tens of thousands of glowworms, and we got to raft out lit only by their glowing excrement. It was beautiful.

You can't see it, but we're smiling for the camera.

You can't see it, but we're smiling for the camera.

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November 29th – December 1st: Routeburn

December 2, 2008
Lake Wakatipu, on the road from Queenstown to Glenorchy.

Lake Wakatipu, on the road from Queenstown to Glenorchy and the Routeburn track.

We did a day-hike on the northern end of the famed Routeburn Track, one of New Zealand’s nine Great Walks. It was along the Routeburn River through an ancient beech forest, and as you’d expect on a hike of such distinction, it was beautiful.

On the trail.

On the trail.

The foot of Bride's Veil Falls, which we could see cascading over the mountains above us from quite a distance.

The foot of Bride's Veil Falls, which we could see cascading over the mountains above us from quite a distance.

The track had several swing bridges, which made us feel like Indiana Jones all over again.

The track had several swing bridges, which made us feel like Indiana Jones all over again.

One thing we’ve really loved about the West Coast is the speed with which the terrain changes from mountains to lakes to coastline, from untouched tangly wilderness to green grazing hills. One gorgeous spot is practically on top of the next, the landscape ever-changing.

In the shadow of the Southern Alps, these sheep have one of the best views in New Zealand.

In the shadow of the Southern Alps, these sheep have one of the best views in New Zealand.

Heading north toward the glaciers and ocean of the West Coast, we passed through Wanaka, stopping for a bit by yet another alpine lake.

Wildflowers and peaks on the shores of Lake Hawea.

Wildflowers and peaks on the shores of Lake Hawea.

We tried to do a glacier hike at Franz Josef Glacier, but it and Fox Glacier both had their heads in the clouds, literally, and were inaccessible due to rain and wind. We’re continuing to the upper regions of the West Coast, then on to Marlborough area for more national parks and wine!