West Coast and the Alps

After our epic adventure in the Abel Tasman National Park, it was time to head down the West Coast before crossing over to Wanaka and beyond.

Rainy West Coast

The West Coast greeted us with rain and wind which is not unusual for this part of New Zealand.

Our first stop of the day was Westport which is home of a seal colony. Given the time of the year, there was a large number of pups and we spent quite a bit of time watching them.

Seals at Westport
Seals at Westport

Unfortunately, Kevin’s favourite ice cream stall from 2013 was not there anymore – very much to his disappointment.

We continued towards Haast along the breathtaking coast. Our next stop was at the famous Pancake Rocks (as you know Kevin loves pancakes a lot). The rock formation looks indeed like a staple of the breakfast dish.

Yummy Pancake (Rocks)
Yummy Pancake (Rocks)

New Zealand’s Southern Alps

After a nice lunch in Haast, we left the coast and headed inland toward Franz Josef Glacier. As we moved towards New Zealand’s Southern Alps we passed a few sections which were badly washed out by rain.

We took a further stop at a small salmon farm to break up the journey. Although it’s only about 350km from Murchinson to Franz Josey it takes about 5 hours (without stops) to reach there. New Zealand’s roads are really different (and very curvy at times) and so we were happy once we reached our destination.

The next morning we wanted to take a look at Franz Josef Glacier. Unfortunately, the day started with rain and fog again and so we only got a glimpse of it.

That's all we saw of Franz Josef Glacier
That’s all we saw of Franz Josef Glacier

The second glacier, called Fox Glacier, is not even accessible anymore after a huge landslide destroyed the access road in 2019.

Beautiful Road to Wanaka

Luckily the weather soon brightened up and we enjoyed a fantastic drive through the mountains. New Zealand again showed its best side and we enjoyed the various lookouts and waterfalls.

Especially nice are the two big lakes just before Wanaka. One lookout was more breathtaking than the next one.

Gorgeous Views of Lake xxx
Gorgeous Views of Lake Hawea just before Wanaka

After a cold night, we did our washing before heading to one of Wanaka’s highlights – Puzzle World.

Puzzle World in Wanaka
Puzzle World in Wanaka

The museum is very interactive and has, besides a lot of optical illusions, some hands-on puzzles which drove us crazy (okay mainly Kevin). It also has a huge maze in its backyard. This time it was Kevin’s turn to beat Hazel in the race to find all four corners and the exit (taking revenge for the last time).

Maze at Puzzle World
Maze at Puzzle World

We rounded off the day with a walk along the lake enjoying the gorgeous mountain backdrops.

Mount Cook

We started the next day early as we were heading to Mount Cook which is about 2.5 hours from Wanaka. The weather was great and so enjoyed once more the beautiful landscape.

Mount Cook
Mount Cook

Mount Cook is probably the most famous mountain in New Zealand and it definitely earned its merit. We enjoyed the view, together with quite a few other tourists, on a 3-hour loop-walk up to the mountain lake and back.

Us in front of Mount Cook
Us in front of Mount Cook

After pitching our tent in Tekapo (on a, for once, below average campground), we headed to the local hot springs to soak ourselves. Highly relaxing.

Practicalities

Where to sleep:

Food oh Glorious Food

  • Fran Josef Glacier: We had, surprisingly, very good Asian food at King Tiger.

West Coast

Wanaka and Mount Cook

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