Thursday 1 February. Yesterday we left Wellington with the early ferry. A long drive along Nelson and the coast road brought us at Abel Tasman. Last night and this morning a tropical storm is coming over New Zealand and particularly over the west coast of the South Island. Heavy showers and very strong winds. This morning is for movies and relaxing. What else can you do? Luckily the weather gets better in the afternoon and it’s time for a hike in the park. It’s sunny with a bit of rain. Actually it’s very nice to have some light cooling showers because the temperature is quite high. The views in the park are amazing. Beautiful beaches and a path through the dense green. Unbelievable.
Friday a scenic road, through forest and some very small towns leads us to Westport. In the afternoon we visit a seal colony at Tauranga Bay. Again some amazing views of the coast.
Saturday it’s still unknown what it will be. Because of the tropical storm, the coast road and some roads in the mountains are closed. People were a few days stuck in town. Well, we leave for Franz Josef and at 15 h we hear if the road is open. We stop a lot to kill time. See waterfalls, do some tracks and have a big stop at the Pancake Rocks at the ocean. A perfect view of some strange layered rock formations. Cool. More roadworks, single-lane tracks, due to the storm. Next to the road huge trees, huge rocks and mud from landslides. Impressive. These days the weather is quite rainy. At Rainforest Retreat in Franz Josef I have a pizza beer evening with Justus, Miriam and Celina. Where we meet some funny NZ-ers.
The next day more rain, but in the afternoon the sun comes out, for a while. We do the track to the viewpoint. Halfway it starts to rain, but we’re lucky. There’s a bicycle shelter and now our shelter. We stay dry. Up the rock, we have an amazing view of Franz Josef glacier. We see it at a distance and it’s more grey than white. I think this is the only glacier to end in the rainforest. Still cool to see. The track to the glacier is still closed due to landslides and we see some heavy machinery along the road. Too bad.
After Franz Josef we follow the coast road again, now to Wanaka. Still a lot of road works and again the most amazing views on the rocky shores of the west coast. In Wanaka, with Allison, I climb a small mountain for the perfect view of the lakes and the mountains. After having cloudy and rainy days, today is sunny and with a blue sky. At last. Before we arrive at Queenstown we stop at an old bridge. Here we watch brave Swedish Minna jump form the bridge and bounce above the river. Coming back again with a big smile and claiming Bungy Jumping is the best thing she ever did. I’m still not sure. For the coming days, it will be Queenstown.