Friday, February 22, 2013

Great Trips – New Zealand IV

Continuing with our New Zealand adventure… After leaving Kaikoura on the east coast of the South Island, we decided to drive over to the ‘wild and wet’ west coast of the island.  As with the northwestern USA, clouds and plentiful moisture create a totally different environment as compared to the eastern part of the island…

Of course…we had to take yet another photo of this most plentiful of South Island residents!  We also saw deer ‘farms’ and beef cattle along the Highway 7 as we moved west.
One thing that you notice after leaving the eastern part of the island is the lack of people.  There is plenty of open land with few homes or structures.  Traffic is minimal to say the least. 
Of course, in New Zealand you are driving on the left.  I did most of the driving but neither one of us had much trouble getting used to the change.  We had experienced this ‘wrong way’ driving on earlier trips to England/Scotland and Australia and after a bit, it seems almost normal…
Sunshine in Hammer Springs New Zealand!  This town of roughly 729 residents is at an elevation of about 1,670 feet and about 40 miles from Kaikoura.  A popular hot spring was discovered here in the late 1800’s and the town was named after an owner of a nearby ‘station’ or farm.

The area is popular to mountain biking, bush walking/trekking and bungee jumping. (I would not let Laurie bungee jump despite her desire to try it!)  There are also a couple of nearby ski areas for winter recreation.  A current project calls for an expanded pool, waterslide, aqua play area, ice skating rink, etc.
The next town that we came to was Reefton.  It’s located on Highway 7 near the west coast of the South Island.  Believe it or not, in 1888 Reefton was the first town in New Zealand…and in the entire Southern Hemisphere…to receive electricity for general use. 

Rich veins of gold were discovered in a quartz reef between 1866 and 1870.  The population grew to several thousand at the time, although now it’s at roughly 950.  The town is expected to grow again due to the fact that an Australian gold mining company has begun operations nearby.  There is also coal mining in the vicinity. 
Ahhh, the roads in New Zealand… By far, most of them are 2-lane.  However, there are many one lane bridges in the mix, just to keep the drivers alert!  We did encounter 1 stretch of 4-lane highway between Dunedin and Christchurch.  One doesn’t drive fast anywhere on the west side of the South Island.  It’s just too rugged…and you’ll want to check out the scenery in any case!

Note: Only 2% of New Zealand’s roads are divided dual lane with a center separation…
Here’s what I call a multi-use bridge!  Note that its only a single lane…you must take turns going north and south… Also note the railroad tracks down the center of the bridge!  FYI…this was like a ‘traffic jam’!  There were 4 vehicles ahead of us…
This is a view of the rugged central west coast of the South Island.  It’s a bit reminiscent of the northern California coastline…only greener with more rainfall year around.  The body of water in this photo is the Tasman Sea.  If you were to fly about 900 miles west, you would arrive in Australia.
These are the famed pancake rock off of Highway 6, (the West Coast Highway), near Punakaiki and the Paparoa National Park.  These stacks are primarily limestone sculpted by the wind and sea.  There are also a number of blowholes through which the waves send spouts of water high into the air.  For some great photos of these formations and other sights in this area, just go to  It should be noted that walking access to the pancake rocks and blowholes is paved and very safe.
Yes, you are right!  This is a glacier… I told you that the South Island has about everything, (as regards scenery), that the USA does in an area that’s just a little larger than Illinois.  This is the Fox Glacier.  You can see it right from Highway 6.  This glacier is a little more than 8 miles long and it lies in the Westland Tai Poutini National Park.  This is one of the few glaciers in the world that ends in a rainforest and it’s only 980 feet above sea level!
Here’s Laurie posing in front of the Fox Glacier.  It was a bit chilly with the low lying clouds and the nearby glacier.  This glacier ebbs and flows and as you can see from the glacial moraine, (rocks and mud), to the right side of the photo, in previous times it has stretched further on down the valley.   As recently as 2009, the Fox Glacier was once again advancing down the valley.
This was another scenic view up the valley near the Fox Glacier.  I can’t begin to imagine just how many photos we would have taken if we’d had a digital camera back in 2000!

In addition to the Fox Glacier, a second glacier, the Franz Joseph glacier is also nearby.  The whole area is part of the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Site.  The Franz Joseph Glacier is retreating at the current time.  The glaciers are fenced off at their base to keep tourist away from the dangerous leading edge of the ice.  Back in 2009, two Australian tourists who ventured beyond the safety fence were buried in tons of ice when a large section of the leading edge collapsed on them…
This is the Fox Glacier Lodge.  It was our overnight home as we explored the area.  It’s the number 1 rated specialty lodging in the area as per Trip Advisor…with a total of 93 reviews.  I checked and if a room was available, the cost would be $140 NZ…or $117 US.  To learn more about the lodge you can go to   For more on the Fox and Franz Joseph Glaciers…as well as other glaciers in New Zealand, just go to

Just click on any of our vacation photos to enlarge them…
Thanks for stopping by for the latest ‘photo travelogue’ installment from our New Zealand adventure!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. This must have been a wonderful holiday! Your photos are amazing and have given me a huge case of wanderlust. Have a wonderful weekend, Dave. Blessings...Mary

  2. Dear Dave, Thank you for visiting and your good wishes. Things are coming along slowly.
    The trip to New Zealand looks very exciting and a wonderful experience to remember. Catherine