Looking for the Kiwis – Week 3

Hello dear readers!

after all the good feedback I received on my last post about my second week in New Zealand, I am happy to share with you the report about week 3!

Day 15 (daily kms 216, cumulated kms 3027)
I’m woken up at around 07:00 by the sound of rain on the windows and I think OMG it’s not gonna be a day to spend outside!
Day 15 is supposed to be a white day. I planned to see 2 very famous Glacier: Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier.
I decide to stay in bed a bit longer and after one hour, I am surprised when I roll up the curtains to see that the weather got a lot better. It’s still very windy but
the sun is now shining.
After a quick Nutella/Bread breafast and a cup of coffee, I take a short walk on the Gillespies beach.
The atmosphere on the beach is very strange. The mix of wind, clouds, waves and dead trees on the beach is making a kind of apocalyptic landscape.

After this warmup morning walking, I get in my car to go to the Fox Glacier. First I try to find a path described in my NZ frenzy book. This path is supposed to bring
to a viewpoint a bit above the Glacier. However, arrived at the starting point of the track, I find some signs informing that it’s closed due to the heavy rain of the
previous days. Not to have come here for nothing. I decide to follow the short river walk on the other side of the road. The path goes down to the glacier river but the view from there is a bit limited due to the cloudy sky.

I get back in my car and head now to the “offcial” Fox Glacier Track. The track is an easy 20 min walk to a viewpoint directly at the foot of the glacier. Along the
way, there are many info signs retracing the history of the location and where you can see how much the glacier is going back each year.

After having taken some pictures, I get back to my car to drive to the next stop: Franz Josef Glacier.
The track to reach the viewpoint is a bit longer than at the Fox Glacier. Some people on the way tells me that Franz Josef Glacier used to be a much better attraction
than Fox Glacier, but it’s not the case anymore as FJG suffered much from the snow meltdown in the last years.
The Track is quite pleasant and offers more or less the same landscape as at Fox Glacier: a mix of greyish rocks surrounding the Glacier river and surrounded on each
side by 2 walls of green mountains. There are also nice big waterfalls to see and along the path, I also pass by a LOTR filming location:

Ered Nimrais
Mount Gunn, near Franz Josef Glacier: The beacons that run along The White Mountains from Gondor to Rohan are lit.

To finish the day in the sun, I take the road along the coast to reach Hokitika, where I camp in a green place on the coast with a nice view on the sea.

Day 16 (daily kms 512, cumulated kms 3539)
Day 16 is a long day as I decide to drive all the way to the Abel Tasman national parc.
In the morning, I make a short stop at the Hokitika Gorge. The water color there is impressive. It’s a milky mix of blue and grey, the blue coming from the Glacier
water and the grey from the tiny rock particles collected on the way down to the valley.

After that, I drive along the West coast to the North. The road offers a really nice view on the sea and the rocky coast. As the wind is still quite strong, I enjoy the view of the big waves crushing against the riffs.

After a while I reach my next stop: the Punaikaki Pancakes Rocks. Those Rocks got their name from their layered composition which reminds of a pile of pancakes. On the
info signs, it is explained that scientists still couldn’t explain how those rocks appears. One hypothesis is that they formed in the sea ground a long time ago and
that they appeared on the surface when the sea level came down.

I walk quite fast to take pictures to avoid of big group of korean tourists and when I reach the end of the track, I jump back in my car for a long drive to the Totaranui Camping Ground in the Abel Tasman national park. The road looks like a motorway on the map, but actually it’s not and I can’t drive really fast (anyway max
speed in NZ is 100km/h). Arrived in the North and out of the Main Road, it gets even worse as the road becomes a very narrow and curvy gravel road. After 9pm, it’s
becoming very dark and I struggle to reach the camping. Instead of the 02h30 announded by the GPS, It took me a bit more than 4h.

Day 17 (daily kms 219, cumulated kms 3758)
I wake up at day 17 quite tired by the long road of the previous day. Everything has a price, the price I paid with the road was quite high but the payback is really
worth it.
After a quick breakfast and shower, I meet the nicest DOC ranger so far. He stops at every car and asks if everything’s fine (Usually they just aske if you really paid
your camping fees). We discuss a bit about my walks planned for the day and he explains me every details of the local tracks.
The first walk I do is a nice 4h return track in the North part of the Abel Tasman parc. It goes over some nice hills from the Anapai Beach to Mutton Cove to finally
reach the Separation Point at the end of the land. The beaches are amazing, the water is very blue, clean and warm and there is almost nobody around!! It’s like having
a piece of paradise only for yourself.

The hike is not very demanding. The paths here are not so steep as in the South of the South Island. After a short break to have lunch, I drive to the next hike at the
Wainui Bay. The goal of the walk is to reach a mini island called Taupo Point. The walk to Taupo is very cool, it goes along a couple of beaches, but not the usual
white sand beaches but rocky beaches. I go there at high tide but come back at low tide. It completely changes the landscape and the colors. I enjoy watching the
different shapes left by the water of the sand.

At the end of the afternoon, it’s time to leave the Abel Tasman area to move to the French Pass.
It’s taking me a again a few hours on narrow roads to reach Elaine Bay where I’ll spend the night.

Day 18 (daily kms 81, cumulated kms 3839)
Day 18 is a light day. I need to recover from the long drives of the previous days.
My only big activity is a nice walk on the Archer Track near Elaine Bay.
It takes me about 1,5h to reach Deep Bay. The scenery is very nice. The path goes along the coast and offers nice views on the neghbouring moutains and emerald blue
sounds. The whole way is quite flat and after another 1,5h I am back at my car.

The next stop is the French Pass Lookout. The way to get there is quite difficult as it is almost only gravel roads but it is very scenic.

From there I can see the so called French Pass, which is a narrow pass between 2 islands in the North of the Marlborough.
This pass is very famous because it’s quite challenging for sailors to navigate there. The ground is not even and have some holes that generate some disturbances in
the water flow.

After a short stop there to take pictures, I jump back in my car to drive to the Queen Charlotte Sound area.

On the way there, I make a short stop in the small city of Havelock to buy food and especially the local specialities, mussels and white wine 😉
I then spend the night in a nice camping in Aussie Bay.

Day 19 (daily kms 100, cumulated kms 3939)
Day 19 is also a light day. I learned that the relation between distance and time is different here as I can’t drive faster than 40/50 km/h with my camper van on the
small roads 🙂
So the only thing I do in the morning is a shot walk near Te Mahia/Mistletoe Bay to Onahohu Hill Lookup.

It’s not a long hike, it takes only 40 mins to the top but
it’s not an easy one as there’s no flat portion. It’s 40 mins of walking up.
The view from the top is very cool. From there we have a nice view on the blue sounds and the mountains around.

After the walk, I drive to the a small village nearby called Portage to have lunch.
During the break, I read about a shipwreck located on the opposite side of the sound at around 20 kms. It sounds quite cool, as it is supposed to be on a beach and big
enough to be visited.
I decide to drive there and look for this shipwreck. On the way, I have the chance to see some mussels cultivation parc.

Arrived in St Omer, I drive a bit around where the shipwreck is supposed to be according to its GPS coordinates
but don’t find anything. I try to ask some locals but nobody seems to be aware of this shipwreck. Finally, I find a nice old woman who tells me where it is, but also
tells me that I won’t be able to visit it before low tide in 3 hours. Unfortunately, as it is almost 3pm, I can’t stay so long and have to go back to the camping place
which is 1h from St Omer. A lot of kms for nothing but that can happen as I didn’t really plan to come here.
Before I leave, I tell the womand that I asked other locals and that nobody seemed to know about this shipwreck. She tells me that actually everybody knows about it in
the village but she thinks nobody wanted to help me because I have a Jucy van and that Jucy doesn’t have a good reputation in the area. As I ask her why, she tells me
that the small camper van like the one I have have no toilet and people with this kind of vehicle usually don’t go to the DOC campings and just pee around in the
nature 🙂 I show her my last camping receipts to prove her that I spent the last days in DOC camps. This seems to make her happy and I drive back to the Kenepuru Head
Camping at the end of Queen Charlotte Sound.

Day 20 (daily kms 200, cumulated kms 4139)
On Day 20, I am taking the Ferry to cross the sea from Picton in the South Island to Wellington in the North Island.
The Ferry is very huge and impressive. It can transport up to 1350 passengers and has a total length of 1700m of parking place for vehicules.
The trip takes 03h30.

Arrived in Wellington I struggle a bit to find a cheap camping place. The campgrounds I wanted to go are all reserved for self-contained only.
Finally I find a place a bit outside Wellington in the Belmont Parc area.

Day 21 (daily kms 248, cumulated kms 4387)
I reserve my first day on the North Island to visit a bit Wellington. Wellington is the capital city and the second biggest city of New Zealand.
I start my day by driving in the South East of the city along the shore. I am starting in Owhiro bay to finish in the Miramar area.

As I take a picture in Owhrio Bay, a curious local comes to discuss a bit with me and tells me what to see in the area. He tells me to check in particular behind the
boats in the sea, as they are often followed by dolphins. As I drive along the coast, I don’t see any, however, I have the chance to arrive at a beach with blue pinguins.

The view on the sea is very nice and I can see a lot of people surfing.

After a short lunch break, I drive to the city center to visit the Te Papa national museum. This is a famous free museum in Welington with a lot of exhibitions about
New Zealand (geography, history, society, etc…). It is simply huge and you would need a couple of days to visit all the floors.
As my time was quite limited, I chose to visit only the floor 4 (history of New Zealand and presentation of the Maori culture) and 5 (different New Zealand art
exhibitions). The visit is very cool and I spend a total of 3,5 hours there.

To finish the afternoon in Wellington, I drive to the top of mount Victoria to enjoy a nice view on the city.


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