Journey Three / Chapter 7

West Coast, Tasman & Nelson of New Zealand

November 2018

Continuing our trip through South Island of New Zealand, crossing counties of West Coast, Tasman & Nelson. Exploring western glacier, up and down the Arthur's Pass and up north to Abel Tasman National Park.

From the Fjordlands we head up to Queenstown to start 2nd part of our exploration of South Island. From Queenstown we continue up a bit along the Queenstown Lake to the end of the road, lakeside village of Glenorchy, and then bit further along the gravel roads and forest paths to explore valley and forests along the Dart River, famous as the filming location multiple scenes from Lord Of The Rings, most notably Isengard, place of Saruman's Tower.

After spending few days in Queensland we head up northwest to the West Coast, location of two most famous New Zealand glaciers - the Fox Glacier and Franz Jozef Glacier. Once easily accessible for all to view, in recent years they retreated very far up the valley, and are only accessible on specialised mountain hiking and helicopter tours. Through there is plenty of other to do in the West Coast, including visiting beautiful natural gorges along the way.

Just in the middle of New Zealand South Island, its backbone the Southern Alps is cut in half with Arthurs Pass, the most important and highest mountain pass in the country. We head up the pass across the Southern Alps to be back in Canterbury for couple of hours, before heading back to West Coast through the pass once again. Quite randomly along the way we came across wonderful natural wonder known as Castle Hill. This rock formation was called 'Spiritual Centre of the Universe' by Dalai Lama who visited it, quite randomly too, when he was passing this road few years ago.

We finish our exploration of West Coast by hitting up the famous Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki, and then head to northern end of the island - the counties of Tasman and Nelson. We pay a proper stop to Abel Tasman National Park, one of many great national parks in New Zealand, to explore it a bit on foot, kayak and a boat.

Ultimately, we head through Nelson to Picton, the southern stop of the Cook Strait ferry, which we board to get to the North Island.