South Island Road Trip
Two weeks ago Simin and I did a quick road trip on New Zealand’s South Island. We spent 9 days, driving a total of 2200 odd kilometres, traveling down the stunning West Coast, hopping over the hill at Haast, and venturing as far south as Wanaka before heading back North via Aoraki Mount Cook and Hanmer Springs. It was a fair distance to cover and certainly had all the hallmarks of a road trip: Drive a short distance. See something nice. Get out the car. Take a picture. Drive a short distance. See something nice. Get out the car. Go for a short walk. Have a cup of tea. Drive a short distance. See something nice. Get out the car. Spot the Kiwi Experience bus. Shite. Get back in the car. Drive somewhere else!
There were so many amazing sights and places to explore, that another trip is definitely called for. Particularly having the opportunity to concentrate more time in a particular area like Otago or McKenzie country, as these areas were particularly spectacular, especially in winter. It’s quite tricky trying to cull nine days worth of images into a succinct selection, so here’s a whole bunch of pics from the trip instead! Admittedly I did become rather target fixated at attempting to get some good landscape shots, but as it’s a road trip after all, I was more reliant on lady luck and being in the right place at the right time.
Simin poses through a porthole on the Bluebridge ferry during the three and a half hour crossing from Wellington to Picton.
A passenger reads a book in one of the cafe area’s on the ferry. Just one of the many ways we ignore others when thrown together, in close proximity with strangers.
Early morning light on the Cook Straight.
After many repetitive journeys from Wellington to Picton, the captain thought Mr Ted should have a go at driving.
The South Island’s West Coast: a mix of mountainous backdrops, temperate rainforest, craggy cliffs, and remote sandy bays.
Tourists watch the blowholes at Pancake Rocks at the small township of Punakaiki.
Pancake Rocks, Punakaiki, West Coast New Zealand.
Simin poses in the dappled light of Punakaiki cavern.
Sunrise in Hokitika, opposite the Birdsong backpackers.
Police must have a lot of fun in Hokitika.
The small village of Franz Josef, home to the Franz Josef Glacier. One of two glaciers on the West Coast of New Zealand which end among temperate rainforest only 300 meters above sea level, making them some of the most accessible glaciers in the world.
Clouds reflected in Lake Matheson, Fox township, West Coast.
On a good day, Mount Cook is supposedly visible from Lake Matheson.
So begins our guided 7 hour trip walking on the Fox Glacier. Feel free to skip these photos should you get bored, there are plenty of them. Size can be deceptive. Towards the top left corner of this image are what appears to be a trail of ants, which is in fact another tour group on the glacier.
Whilst walking on the glacier, I did develop a slight obsession for photographing abstract patterns in the ice. This is the first and last of its kind in this post. I’ll create a separate post just for the abstract images soon.
Passan, our Nepali Sherpa glacier guide, developed as much an obsession chipping away at the ice with his axe as I did photographing abstract patterns.
I lied. Here’s another abstract shot of ice! This is the first icefall on the glacier, which is the furthest distance we would travel on the full-day guided walk.
Simin poses in front of the icefall.
Passan scopes out a possible route amongst the crevasses.
Exposure can be a bit tricky on the glacier. Bracketing exposures was necessary when there was no 18% grey in the scene to make a light reading from. The autofocus system wasn’t a big fan of the intense reflectivity of the ice either.
Passan takes his 50th tourist photo of the day.
Two Slovakian tourist pose while Passan takes their photo. These girls were at the tipple for breakfast at the hostel. That’s why they’re smiling! In the right circumstances, the ice makes for a great fill light.
Simin prepares to navigate her way through a small ice tunnel.
The group as we make our way back down the glacier.
Bruce Bay, 46 Km south of Fox glacier. A desolate looking beach scattered with the carcasses of dead trees.
Ships Creek, Westland. A good place for a tea stop!
The Craypot in Jackson Bay, 50 Km south of Haast, Certainly the best fish and chips I have tasted outside of England. We got there just before rush hour, when the locals, who make their living from the sea, arrived to add their air of originality and homeliness to the place. The 100 Km detour to the end of the road was definitely worth it. If you make it to Haast, why not go a little further.
Saabrina, the Swedish tank and the Southern Alps after crossing Haast Pass on our way to Wanaka. My greatest fears never materialised during the 2200 kilometre journey. The solid and reliably built Swede went the full distance. My fingers were double crossed as European car parts are bloody expensive in NZ.
Puzzling World, Wanaka. I’m not sure if they quite managed to get the perspective quite right with this mural. Either that, or those chaps on the left have been sitting there for sometime!
McKenzie Country on our way to Aoraki Mount Cook National Park.
Hanmer backpackers, the end of the road, almost. Sadly we both caught the South Island flu, or some viral equivalent during the last three days of our trip. As we were heading to Hanmer Springs at the time, we spent a day soaking in the hot-pools, trying to kill off the microscopic little buggers. This is the only photo I took during those last three days due to feeling a bit crook and having coughing fits that would leave me in a crumpled heap on the streets of Hanmer. This is Simin, having to face the reality of driving the final 300 kilometres back to Picton while feeling like crap.