West Coast Roadtrip
After our adventures in the Kahurangi, we headed back to Nelson to recharge and prepare for the next section of the trip heading down the West Coast. While in Nelson we had the chance to meet up with Group B. We had some delicious pizza, played cards, and had a good time chilling out in the hostel courtyard. In Nelson we also returned our tents and all other camping gear given that that was the last time we would be needing them for the trip.
From Nelson we headed off on a beautiful drive by the water towards Punakaiki. Punakaiki was pretty easy going. For our one exploration day we all went to the Pancake Rocks to check those out, but after we split up with some of us going on a staggeringly beautiful day hike to Cave Creek and the others heading back to the cabins to hang out.
After our stop in Punakaiki we drove down to Franz Josef via Hokitika. This was a quintessential West Coast village. In Hokitika we had about an hour to explore the coastal town before we drove to a park that Ricki recommended for lunch. We arrived at Franz Josef in the afternoon and after settling down and dropping our gear off and all but 2 of us hiked up to glacier which was pretty incredible to see up close. Our exploration day consisted of mostly shopping and staying in the hostel because of bad weather. Freddie went for a hike but he was really the only one who went out and did something. We needed a break after all we've packed into 9 weeks. After a delicious chicken parm dinner the group went to the naturally heated Franz Josef hot pools. It was raining practically the whole time and even though we were outside there were covers over each of the pools. The weather got so bad after about an hour that the pools were evacuated!
We left Franz Josef the next morning and drove to Wanaka with several stops to check out all the scenery along the way. Wanaka was where we did our two and half days of rock climbing camp. The first day we did the morning and afternoon sessions both outside, the second day we did morning outside and afternoon inside, and the third day we just did the morning outside. The first day all of us went but each day we lost a few people due to lack of interest and by the third day I think only about 7 of us went. On the second night in Wanaka we spent some time downtown and had Mexican food. We also checked out the famous Lake Wanaka tree.
After our stop in Wanaka we had a quick drive here to Queenstown. Close to Queenstown we stopped so that we could watch Jenny, Tommy, and Gill go bungy jumping. (I don't think there's any amount of money that could be offered to me that would make me do that). Our first night here we went to Fergburger, the most well known burger joint in town. I think there were some mixed reviews among the group but everyone was pretty happy with it overall.
Yesterday some of us chose to go to Milford Sound, the most visited spot in all of New Zealand, with Jess and Ricki. We hopped on a 2-hour cruise which was such a good choice. We saw bottlenose dolphins, rockhopper penguins, and some seals. We also got up close to a waterfall three times the height of Niagra Falls. While we were on our way back, but still in Fiordland, we stopped at an amazing, secret swimming hole that Ricki knew about. We jumped off a rock 7m above the crystal clear, freezing cold water, and dried off by lying down and sunning ourselves like the seals we had seen just an hour before.