Dear friends,

After three beautiful days in Wanaka, we left early to drive through the Haast Pass to the West Coast, passing along the western side of Lake Hawea and then back along the upper reaches of Lake Wanaka before continuing on through the valleys and gorges of the Haast to reach the coast.  From there we followed the beautiful coastline looking out to the Tasman Sea as far as the little town of Franz Josef.

Dawn breaks over the mountains at Wanaka, painting the mountains pink.

Lovely rolling farmlands along the west coast of Lake Hawea.

Looking down the Haast Valley towards the Southern Alps.

A lovely stretch of coastline just north of Haast, looking southwards.

The road winding along the coastal strip of Westland, looking towards the north.

We were welcomed into our hotel, ‘Waonui Forest Retreat’ at Franz Josef by this rather menacing little carving, rather more ‘Lord of the Rings’, than a traditional Maori carving.

A slightly more acceptable welcome was waiting for us in once we checked in. 

Part of the package at this hotel was a 5-course degustation menu – for starters a wonderful seafood taste sensation.

On our day in Franz Josef, we explored the local area a little and then took the walk up to the base of the Franz Josef Glacier. As in so many colder regions of the world, the famous West Coast Glaciers of New Zealand are retreating at quite a rapid rate and so each year the walk becomes longer as the glacier melts and leaves mountains of moraine.

Wonderful ‘punga’ (tree ferns) could be found in clusters around the hotel and along the walking paths.

The milky green waters descending from the tail of the glacier seen in the distance. 

Waterfalls cascading off the mountains to the side of the valley from snowfields above.

Lichen and mosses covering the rocks along the trail add wonderful colours to the valley.

Loving the whole colour palette of the valley – rocks, vegetation, glacier against the blue, blue sky.

As we got nearer to the base of the glacier, there were plenty of warnings for falling rocks.

As close as we could get to the glacier and pretty impressive.

We were not the only ones enjoying the walk, the sun and the opportunity to take photos of the glacier …..!

Walking back, we turned often to admire the view, but also enjoyed the plants and flowers along the track.

The shadow of a fern, NZ’s national emblem, against another lit by the sun. 

The delicate pink flowers if the manuka.

A medley of different varieties of fern.

Driving back into the village, I noticed this rather quaint house set at the edge of the river.

‘Our Lady of the Alps’ Catholic Church was also a lovely bit of old West Coast architecture. 

Didn’t want to miss the chance of having a photo taken in the Alpine Centre with a climber of yesteryear.

Young travellers enjoying the warm summer evening in Franz Josef Village with a splendid backdrop of the Southern Alps.

Although the weather on the West Coast of NZ’s South Island is notoriously wet and cold, we experienced glorious weather, and for the following day, the forecast was also good.  So for the next blog which should be up very soon, continue with us further up the West Coast.

Hope you are enjoying following our road trip – much more to come.