This rock fall was as we headed down the West coast. I loved all the different rock formations and the geography of the country but I guess it does have its downfalls (sorry I wasn't trying to be funny). Don't think you can drive the Kiwi roads like we drive a lot of our flat straight boring ones over here in Australia.
At the end of the pathed walk way at Franz Josef Glacier people took off their shoes waded across the icy water (there were chunks of ice floating by) and headed up the river bed toward the glacier. Do be aware that undertaking this with out a guide can end in tragedy as two Australians died two days after we were at Fox Glacier. The massive bed of ice is dynamic and chunks are constantly coming off.
It is high time to warn you of black ice which - because of the low winter temperatures - occur mainly on the South Island.
Black ice is the ice you do not see on the road, and is a lethal danger.
Just the other day a young Australian girl died in a crash on black ice near the Rakaia Gorge, on SH 72 (south-west of Christchurch).
There are not many recommendations apart from driving cautiously, especially in the morning hours on cold days, and when the road looks wet, especially near and on bridges and in dark and shady stretches of the road where it takes longer until the ice thaws due to the lack of sunshine.
The most infamous regions for black ice are Southland and Otago. The most notorious danger-spot is the Northern Highway (SH 1) north of Dunedin, which is double-dangerous because it is so steep. If you start sliding there you have no chance to stop.
Those One Lane Bridges are a common feature in New Zealand, especially on the South Island, as we have a lot less traffic than on the North Island, due to a smaller population in a much wider area.
They are everywhere - and become a danger when you are driving and admiring the landscape at the same time, as you do not think a one lane bridge could interrupt your trip. The warning signs are plenty and normally the words One Lane Bridge are painted on the road, so you get aware that you should be prepared to stop if oncoming traffic is on the bridge already or has the right to go.
On the West Coast there are two spectacular one lane bridges which will make you stop anyway - for taking a photo. You share those bridges not only with oncoming traffic but also with trains. Unfortunately one of them - the road and rail bridge over the Arahura river - is going to be replaced by a new bridge, and the romantic sight will never be the same again. Well, it is for the safety of all of us, as the bridge is really veeeeery historic... Actually there is a very "nice" warning sign for cyclists too, flying head first from the bike when dipping into the rails... So: Also take care if you cycle over such exciting bridges because you cycle along the rails and do not only cross them like at railway crossings. Melbournians (who often get catapulted from their bikes in the tramway rails) can tell you the stories...
Anyway. This 120 year old and 200m long wooden road and rail bridge will be replaced by a concrete structure with two car lanes and the railway separated by a divider. A rail/road crossing with signaling system will be at the southern end of the bridge. Construction should begin mid 2007 and being completed within two years. So still some time for photo shoots ;-)
Especially on the South Island you will find a lot of cattle stops. Those are made of grills or rails to prevent cattle from walking away from their paddocks on the access roads which the farmers cannot just fence off.
Those cattle stops do not only occur on remote gravel roads. Even the Summit Road in Christchurch is dotted with those noisy kind of road blocks which rattle terribly when you drive over them. They will not break the axe of your car if you drive over them at high speed, well, perhaps they could if you were fast enough, but then the police would charge you for speeding LOL
In general it helps your car, your ears, your stomach and all other people in the area if you slowed down a little before crossing a cattle stop.
It may appear easy and not too high nor too far. But when you come close to it, a glacier is large, slippery and can be challenging.
So assess if you are fit enough and brave enough to cover the terrain. As like anything, start small before you bite more than you can chew.
The great thing is that safety is well taken care in all the NZ adventurous tours that I have been. But only you know where you own limits are if you are not familiar with ice or tired from all that late nights.
drive carefully, slowish, don't brake hard let the Car do its thing and of course stay left, left even if they're is no traffic. and be aware of corners, normaly they are well signed out in advance, slow down to the speed recommended,.....it works I can garantie it
if you don't, Gravel, can drive you around the bend ^..^
the Cadrona Pass has been sealed now, no Gravelroad anymore....one adventure gone grrrh.... still, when you drive off road,.... gravelroads!!
for road condition, go to the website below....and all major cities and towns have a AA office, they provide you with all infos as well with good roadmaps too
ferocious, blood sucking....Beasts.
buy your repelent here, it works the best.
al of us here in NZ have their own mixtures, when I go to the West Coast
I popp into the nearest Supermarket, buy a small Baby Oil bottle and a bottle of DETTOL ..desinfectend
mixe the both 50:50 and shortly, when I arrive at the Cost I smear it all over me...I tell you, the stuff stinks....which is the result.
Sandflies don't like it and I don't blame'm.
many top it all with a good dosage of Vit.B caps, that intensevies the whole procedure..and don't try to kill one.... they come in the thousends to they're Mates funeral.
save you on a very wet day.the West Coast has always some Rain during the day, I know..travelling light, my Motto too, but u can buy some very useful & big once here:-))
and also, when walking one can use it as a walking Stick and when the Sun very hot..shade is provided..
Skin Cancer is a real malice threat here in NZ
take warm clothes, water, first aid kit and tell someone, where you will be going, when back !!I know I do repeat myself, but can't stretch this warning far enough. every year tourist and travellers alike get lost in the vastness of the southern alps.
I am not kidding
NZ-Emergency Number: 111*
when hiking or walking in the Southern Alps, let somebody know where you go, when and with whom u'r planning to go.
When the hiking starts and more importand, when u'll be back. and take good care.check the gear, food, maybe cellphone
tourist offices will give you advice
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