Perfect weather, including a delightful sprinkling of snow, gave Thomas an inaccurate overview of New Zealand’s climate. Even the usual atmospheric gloom of the West Coast was absent. Sunny azure skies gave an enticing backdrop for activities in among the snow crested mountains on the South Island. This meant plenty of hiking and exploring through the wilderness. We made the most of the campervan and and the ‘Freedom Camping’ policy of N.Z.. Each of our overnight camp sites were met with a sense of awe in the morning, with the exception of one which was based near a stream on one side and a dip in the road on the other. Quite noisy with plenty of trucks passing in the night. We counted our blessings though as this was only one out of 15.
Really, the highlight of our time there was a three day jaunt into Fjordland. Incredible 3 hour hikes taking us to summits and hanging valleys were a unique treat that we hadn’t experienced before. We stayed in the D.O.C. (Dept. of Conservation), camping grounds where the views were spectacular and the neighbours few. The latter wasn’t to do with the lack of tourists. It was mainly to do with the population of sandflies that are attracted to you in the region. Fortunately, it was only if you were standing still and we weren’t still for long.
Lake Marian, in a hanging valley, was reached by climbing through a temperate rainforest onto an alpine ridge. At some stages we climbed vertically through a maze of tree roots to ascend above landslides and river beds.
Countless small roadside walks led us to small treasures along the way. We explored more glaciers, caves and rivers. We probably walked over 100km and drove over 3 000.
We were determined to fit in as many short hikes as possible in our limited time and this worked well until I slipped on some rocks on the beach in the Abel Tasman National Park just five days before flying back to Australia. ‘Rock Climbing’ the hospital accident report declared. An initial diagnosis was sprained right wrist and foot but I was phoned later to be informed that there was a break in the big toe. This called for touring around the north-east coast viewing the seal pups from the van and lazing in Hamner Springs to recoup. More pics below.