Wednesday, September 10, 2014

West Coast Re-Do

For a weekend excursion, Erin and I decided to take another crack at the West Coast. Erin wasn't deterred by our horror stories of the terrible weather, and was intrigued by the treasures awaiting there. And as for me, I was determined to get to see these sites properly. It's like when you can't have something, so you just want it more. I had been denied by the West Coast, and in so doing, it made me love it. It's a tale as old as time, really.
Being genius planners, we headed towards the West Coast the evening after finishing work, and stayed in Wanaka overnight. This would allow us to be at the Haast Pass gate at Makarora at 8:30 when they opened, and we could breeze through the pass (without stops) to be back at Franz Josef Glacier Village by 11 something to be able to go on our GLACIER TOUR!

Things were going perfectly. We made it to the pass after leaving Wanaka by 7:15, only stopping to take the picture above, since it was such a pretty morning.

We breezed through the pass as planned, making mental notes on the cool stops available on the way back - but our eyes were set on the glacier, so we ventured forth. 

We arrive at the glacier expedition shop just as planned, and all is going well. We get signed in, review all the safety stuff. We meet our guide and our group gets taken to the back to get all the gear. 
We are excited.
I have a smile the size of Texas on my face as I am putting on their special pants and their special boots. 
As I'm lacing up my second boot, they make the announcement that our tour has been cancelled due to wind.   What?????  It was the most beautiful day imaginable. Shockingly beautiful. I thought there was not a chance in the world this tour wasn't gonna happen, but it all fell through.
Erin took it better than I did. She was always quick to point out that it would be better to not see the glacier than it would be to die on the glacier. Good point.
So after placing a bit of a guilt trip on the lady trying to reschedule us, we had a reservation made for two days later. The day following was not an option because we had big plans for knife-making, and that was not to be missed.

So after picking my pouty lower lip off the floor, we moved on up the coast, still trying to appreciate the beautiful weather. 

We made a quick stop in Hokitika.
You may remember a cloudier version of this photo from a while back...

Having to get on up to Barrytown, we just kept cruising, with our next stop: Greymouth

And as luck would have it, there was a street fair going on.

Complete with Community Choir: 
I can't comment on their talent because even though I was this close to them, I could barely hear them. Outside voices, people!

Beyond Greymouth, the coast got really pretty: 

I spy with my little eye: A giant Rabbit rock: 
see it hiding back there?

And that concluded the trip North.

We checked out a trail up there that felt as much like Jurassic Park as anywhere I've ever been
It definitely had a way more tropical vibe up here compared to anywhere down in Southland, Fiordland, and Otago where I typically run around.

Then several events occurred, which will be covered in future entries, but for now, I'll just continue the roadtrip portion of the trip back down the coast, primarily the cool stuff we breezed by on the way up (for NO reason since they cancelled our trip on the glacier!!!).

One of the stops was Roaring Billy Falls, which was an ok waterfall, but an amazingly clear blue river really stole the spotlight: 
The scenery here was pretty great overall: 

Next up: Thunder Creek Falls:

Then came the Blue Pools. With all the blue water around here, I wasn't expecting anything more than the usual, but I was pleasantly surprised by this bright little gem of a creek: 
That's BLUE 
Kind of makes normal water look dumpy.

And at the blue pools, there's a big rock bank covered in cairns that people have made.  
They covered the place.
So of course we added our own: 
Difficulty level: 7/10

And then we wound our way back through back roads and mountain passes to Arrowtown and Queenstown. 
The valleys around Queenstown are always good for a mountain picture.

And that was the beginning and end of our weekend trip. More on the adventures in the middle to come soon.

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