The Wild West

The Wild West

Having just survived the attack of the killer sandflies we headed for the wild west coast.

A cafe on route had album covers on the wall. This one is the first album that I remember having at home. Can't think of why it stuck out. Can you name the bands from the song titles (no Google!)? If you get more than 7 then you are on the wrong side of 50.

A quick visit to the iSite in Westport saw us heading further North to a quiet out of the way beach, Gentle Annie's. The campsite run by a wild and crazy French hippy dude. To be fair there wasn't much wild and crazy behaviour except for the gorgeous black labrador come dinner time. 

The beach was another story. It's where driftwood for the entire word comes to rest. It looked like a scene from an epic battle, bodies slewn everywhere, only in this case it was wood of every shape and size.

Besides us there was one other couple (spookily a friend of a friend) and a handful of wekas (a quite rare native NZ flightless bird). If you every want to disappear off the edge of the world, this is the place to come.

When packing up there was a loud scream and Julie exited the van like a rocket. Sitting there shaking like a leaf was our new hitchhiker, a scared looking mouse.

Down the road was the end of the Old Ghost Road bike trail. An 85k track that takes you through some long forgotten gold mining towns. The towns now just inhibited by the odd ghost and some scary men in lycra. We tried to tackled the last 20km starting at the end and working our way up. Well that lasted until we hit a steep section that had a goat as warning to the gradient. We managed to get half way up the 400m climb before turning round an enjoying the tricky ride back down. The wild descent taking it's toll on our creaky joints.

With a quick stop to check out the seal colony outside of Westport we headed south. We had a date with a sunset and some rocks that someone had told us not to miss.

The west coast is truly wild at Punakaiki. Make sure you visit at high tide. The spectacular rock formations (Pancake Rocks) put on a wonderful show as the sea tries to batter them into submission. We also had a near perfect sunset, the sky ablaze with colour.

Franz Josef Glacier was our next stopping off point. After a long drive, a beer with our names on was calling. Not until Julie's beer arrived did we realise it was St Patrick's Day. 

Early morning found us at Lake Matheson. On the right day with no cloud the lake is like a mirror. Stunning view of the Southern Alps and Mount Cook reflecting on the lake. Once the bus load of hyper active teenagers had moved on we almost had the place to ourselves.

We walked as close as we could to the terminus of Fox Glacier, warning signs everywhere spelling out the danger of falling ice. The signs still didn't stop two visitors being crushed by a falling chunk of ice after climbing over a fence a few years back. The wilder side of Mother Nature is always bubbling away just under the serene surface.

At Franz Josef Glacier we came across humps with bumps. Those crazy DOC (Department of Conservation) guys have totally worked out how to wreak a lowered Kombi. You put speed humps in and then insert rocks into the top of the humps. Mmmmm.

Lunch was a quiet romantic spot by Lake Mapourika. Well it was until bunch of guys (and a girl) turned up. Fueled by lunch time booze they proceed to set up a ramp at the end of the short wharf. Then they each took turns riding a bike off the end of the wharf into the rather chilly lake. Those wild and crazy kids.


a video of their escapades can be viewed at

Next stop Wanaka for our first house sitting experience.