West Coast, New Zealand
The car journey from Queenstown toward Wanaka takes in the Lindis Pass. This is the most exquisite scenery i've seen in a long time. We saw it in summer and it was fabo then - I imagine in Spring it would be even more breathtaking. A MUST SEE drive.
Close to Greymouth there's a hamlet called Barrytown, possibly constantly shrouded in fog. The people there though share the usual devil may care attitude of most of the west coast; except there's a bit of the devil in them too. Lets just say they live on the edge. If you find yourself appraching Barrytown and want to take a break from all those one-way bridges then stop off at Steve Martin's . . . he's funnier then the real thing. He'll also teach you how to make a knife and give you ample 'refreshments' afterwards. Great craic.
This place is approx 15km South of Westport and used to be a major Goldmining town. Back in its heyday it had 99 Pubs. Now there is a Cafe on the main road and a couple of very nice beaches plus a great fishing spot accessed through the back of the Cemetary - go to the cemetary and walk to the far end of it, you will see a break in the bush and once through you can see the trail leading down to the rocks - be very careful!! The tide coming in can sweep you off at high tide.
Fiordland, on the Southwest coast of New Zealand has the world’s highest sea cliffs rising sheer out of the waters of Milford Sound. The gateway to Fiordland is the town of Te Anau. A visit to the visitor centre is a must. Here you can organise bus and boat cruises or aerial sightseeing throughout Fiordland, including Milford, Doubtful Sound and Lake Manapouri. You can also arrange hut and campsite bookings for the 500 km of walking tracks that criss-cross the park.
If you want to do some tramping there are heaps of options including Milford, Routeburn, Greenstone-Caples, Hollyford, Kepler and Dusky. The Milford Track is a 54 km, 4 day tramp, which has been dubbed ‘The Finest Walk in the World’. It pays to book these tramps well in advance. Please note that Fiordland has New Zealand’s highest rainfall so make sure you take sufficient clothing to manage this. On the up side, the 7 metres of annual rainfall brings the cliffs come alive with hundreds of waterfalls cascading down into the fiords.
This park is the most extensive wilderness area in New Zealand and one of the largest national parks in the world. It is part of the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area. It has New Zealands highest waterfall, highest cliffs, deepest lakes, and most shallow black corals (in Milford Sound).
Fiordland is also home to 700 plants found only in Fiordland and the famous, flightless moorhen called the takahe. The fiords are also home to penguins, dolphins and New Zealand fur seals.
Fiordland’s landscape of fiords, lakes, mountains, glaciers and forests is a living remnant of the ancient super-continent Gondwana. Don't be surprised if you have a Jurassic Park moment!!
A 'must' when on the South Island (Island of the long white cloud) is to visit at least one of the two glaciers on the island. I visited the Franz Jospeh Glacier, it is amazing, beautiful and dangerous. Even in the hight of summer, it is chilly (well lit is a glacier!), take a warmish top, walking shoes and of course the camera. Be prepared for a 20 minute to 30 minute hike from the car park, boy will it be worth it. Enjoy.