Saturday, September 6, 2014

West Coast Clouds Part 1: I hope you like Gray

After our rainy day the day before, we were ready to move on to drier pastures. As we left the Mount Cook area, it was quite rainy.  Then we passed a rainbow, and the weather got significantly better.

This was the magic rainbow that marked the end of the bad weather...briefly.

See???  It was so much nicer after that rainbow!

BUT the wind was ferocious. 

Shortly after that nice sunny picture was taken, we went through a mountain pass with a stunning view. We considered stopping for a picture. Then we saw some get BLOWN DOWN at the lookout. Seriously. The wind was strong enough to just knock you down. So we just kept on driving after a quick assessment (from the car) to make sure that person was ok.

Feeling fresh with the sunshine.

Well done, NZ. This is just beautiful.

Unfortunately, our good luck didn't hold for long. The drive from Mount Cook to Hokitika is about 6 hours, but you end up shockingly close to where you started. We basically drove up and around the mountain range and came back down to the other side of Mount Cook. The middle 4 hours were pretty decent aside from seeing that person get blown down by the wind.

Another downer was getting a speeding ticket in the speed trap known as Geraldine, NZ.  The cops like to sit at the very edge of town, right before the speed limit sign that tells you to go faster. So as people speed up as they exit town, the cops nab them.  I'm not the only American to get pulled over this year. Aaron got the exact same thing in Clinton, NZ earlier this year, and actor Chris Pine got a 'drink driving' arrest in the town of Methven, NZ, which is very near to Geraldine. Chris reportedly handled the whole thing like a true gentleman, and the good people of Methven had only good things to say about him. Interestingly, some of my friends that came to visit this year shared two plane rides with Chris Pine, and got their picture taken with him. he was apparently really nice.

So I guess our luck wasn't that great after all. We had about 4 hours of sunshine, which was dampened by extreme wind and a speeding ticket....

Then we met another gate-keeper rainbow, which marked the return of the rain as we approached the mountains and the West Coast. The Wild West Coast. Our goal for the day was to get to Hokitika, and from there we were planning to move down the coast, check out the glaciers, and then ultimately head back to Queenstown.

Upon our arrival to Hokitka, it was a bit cloudy, and I was a little drained from the exhausting drive, so I took a quick nap while Emily went for a run and Angela looked into some evening food/entertainment options.

One of the highlights of the day (aside from seeing the person get blown down, because in all honesty, that was pretty amazing) was that Emily FINALLY got her luggage! This took 3 days, some mean phone calls, and ultimately getting her bag flown up to Hokitika to meet us there. Luckily good ole Pip had sent a bunch of clothes with me to keep the girls warm, and this ended up being very helpful since Emily could wear all those clothes in the meantime!

We also went to Hokitika Gorge. This place is supposed to have the most amazing blue water in this gorge and just be overall incredible. 
The rainy weather stole a lot of the awesomeness, we think, because we were a little underwhelmed.

I mean, it's not UGLY, but when they advertise the bluest water ever, this is a little disappointing.

We had more fun with the hang bridge:

Don't rock the bridge.

Another site we saw on the West Coast was Lake Matheson.
Now THIS place is also supposed to be amazing. As in Calendar Picture nice.  In fact, it is actually the picture on my calendar at work for the month of September. What's so special about it? Well, it is a sheltered little lake that perfectly reflects Mount Cook in the background. 
Unfortunately, it was so cloudy and rainy that you couldn't see the mountains at all!

There's supposed to be a huge mountain back there.
Just use your imagination. 

I'll admit that it was still really nice as the mist and fog gave it a special look, but how frustrating knowing that there are giant mountains hiding just out of view!

So that's our first day at the West Coast.
Not bad, but not quite as planned.

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