Travelling the South Island (I): From Picton to Franz Josef

18 02 2012

Our ferry from Wellington arrived on the South Island in Picton late night and in rainy weather. The next day we started with a quick detour to the wine growing region of Marlborough and did some wine tasting in Blenheim, then began the long way from the East coast to the West coast. The relatively flat landscape quickly changed into hills and then mountains with dense forest in the valleys and bare and rocky mountains above. Great views on this sunny day. We stayed the night on a caravan park in Reefton and reached Greymouth at the West coast the next day.

On the way from Blenheim to St. Arnaud.

The previous evening our good little campervan had developed a hiccup – the engine occasionally stalled when in idle. Not a problem while on the road, but in town it was really bad as the motor had to be restarted at every traffic light. So we hunted down a local garage and after a conference call with Bevan at Classic Campers, the mechanic disassembled the carburetor, cleaned it, put it back in, and everything was fine again. Turned out that the garage we had found was run by another VW enthusiast, Allan Gibson, who had learnt his trade at a VW garage in Blenheim in the seventies, owns a mid-size collection of beetles and is also in love with VW kombis. So if there is a problem with an air-cooled Volkswagen and you are around Greymouth on the West Coast, Allan Gibson is your man (The Muffler Shop, 17 TaraPuhi St, Greymouth 7805, phone 03 768 5905). From Greymouth we went southwards along the West coast and spent one night in Harihari, then reached Franz Josef the next day around midday. Fantastic views along the way, partly through forests, partly with the coast on the right and high mountains on the left. On the way the weather changed to cloudy with occasional drizzles which somehow fitted well to the landscape.

Through the forest between Ross and Franz Josef, short before Harihari.

Aotearoa - the land of the long white cloud - is the Maori name for New Zealand. Photo taken before Harihari at the West coast.

Evening camp in slight drizzle at Hari Hari Motor Inn.

In Franz Josef we went to have a look at the local glacier. The sun had come out again and we started from the car park through a short stretch of tree fern forest and then over rocky ground, along the valley formed by the retreating glacier and the river of its melting water. It was great to slowly approach this big ice lip coming down from the snow covered mountains. The next day we took a day off in Franz Josef before we started again southwards, now towards Queenstown.

On the way towards the Franz Josef glacier.

Stopover for lunch in Franz Josef.

Sunset with Campervan and the Alpes.

Our route on the south Island in yellow.


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