Travelling New Zealand’s South Island 5 – Queenstown and the Wild West Coast – by Rob Shackleford
Other Travelling NZ Blogs
|1 – Christchurch to Oamaru
|2 – To Dunedin
|3 – To Bluff
|4 – To Milford Sound
|5 – Queenstown and the Wild West Coast
|6 – Arthur’s Pass to Lake Tekapo
|7 – Mt Cook
|8 – Kiwi Food
|9 – Faces of NZ – 1
|10 – Faces of NZ – 2
After a memorable visit to Fjordland and Milford Sound, we made our way through the spectacular Southern Alps to Queenstown.
Queenstown is a heavily promoted world travel destination where one tourism promotional web-site called the town the best place on earth. That might be drawing a long bow. After all, we have seen some pretty spectacular snow destinations such as Whistler in Canada. Granted, it wasn’t snow season and, as we really don’t love the tourism cliche, our initial take on Queenstown was that it was a tourist trap largely lacking heart. But then again, commercialization does that.
We took a walk and explored, ending up in Arrowtown, which was jam-packed with tourists. Alas, I don’t like mass tourism. We passed the adventure tourism hub of Kawarau Gorge, where some years ago we had both tried Bungy Jumping, and then ended up staying in a guest house in Wanaka. It was significantly less developed and very pretty. Again, our timing was perfect as the snows had not yet arrived.
In Wanaka I finally found Bluff oysters. Yes, they were costly, at $3 each for a pack of ten, but you have to enjoy the experience. I like oysters and these were superb. Deb wouldn’t touch them with a barge-pole.
New Zealand’s Wild West Coast
The drive from Wanaka to the west coast, and Haas, was predictably spectacular. We stopped too many times to take pictures that give little credence to how truly beautiful this part of the world is. As warned by our policeman friend, we managed to dodge a few brainless tourists who thought standing in the middle of the road to take pictures was a good idea. On one occasion, a car was parked in the middle of our lane. If they had played that trick around a blind bend, we might not be here to talk about it.
In Haast we stopped for lunch. There I experienced a traditional New Zealand dish – whitebait fritters. I understand this was once a mainstay meal for farmers and hunters, where the tiny whitebait fish were netted, mixed with batter and then cooked. Because of over-harvesting and climate change, I am to understand that whitebait are no longer as abundant. They actually weren’t bad and made for an entertaining lunch experience.
We stopped up Ship Creek where a boardwalk led through the the coastal vegetation so we could get a good look at the wild seas that typify the New Zealand west coast. This is a surprising country, where there seems to be few residents, with pebble and driftwood littered beaches and seas that churn like a gigantic washing machine. Compared to our home on the Gold Coast in Australia, it is a wild and thrilling place.
Fox Glacier town was our stay for the night, though the actual glacier was barely visible. Locals suggest the glacier has melted so much that they feared it might soon be gone. We did hike around Lake Matheson where the forest and water made for a pretty cool escape. Later that night, on our host’s advice, we walked into town and then to a forest area where glowworms were in abundance, best seen in the shadow of hollowed logs. All without guides and expenses, to see these creatures live in New Zealand’s not so wild was a special experience.
The next day we hiked Franz Josef – another rapidly diminishing glacier. Most in the area now consider Glacial retreat to be now seen as perilous.
The hike was pleasant and the glacier still awesome as it crouched between the hills it had once mastered. The loss of the glacier seems tragic, especially for locals who survive largely on tourism revenues.
New Zealand and Climate Change
I have to make a short statement here, for as we travel we see the influence of climate changes that our Australian government denies. In New Zealand and Britain, the Climate Change issue is not if it exists, but rather what the world can do to reduce humanity’s impact on our planet. The topic is freely discussed on the news and in New Zealand it seems almost stunning that anything is said, for open discussion seems to be the antitheses to the attitude as of Australia and the US. Living in Australia, one becomes used to Climate Change being a dirty word, where ‘Climate Change Fanatics’ want to change the world away from the warm safety of the coal and oil industries that so adequately fund our politicians.
Some Kiwis might knock their PM – Jacinda Ahern, but many Australians have so little faith in our smugly corrupt government that the suggestion has been made to declare war on New Zealand, and then surrender.
It all makes for an interesting discussion, especially to openly hear the attitudes of, New Zealand, our neighbour just across the ditch.
Here are a few Franz Josef images copied from ‘The Frozen Tears of New Zealand’s melting glaciers’
Some of our images
Other of our Travelling with Traveller Inceptio Blogs
|India by Royal Enfields 1
|Britain by House Sits
|Faces of Scotland
|House Sit Bath
|Faces of England
|House Sitting UK
|Faces of Wales
|Visit to London
Rob and Deb live at Burleigh Heads, on Australia’s Gold Coast.
Deb is a yoga teacher and administrator par excellence.
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