Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Back down the West Coast to Wanaka

The west coast of the South Island is a really special place. Lush foliage fuelled by very high rainfall, a spectacular coastline, and a few rapidly receding glaciers make it a paradise to visit. If you have the time and flexibility to linger long enough to enjoy the place when the sun comes out it captures your heart. But the sandflies put a lot of people off.....

I'm pretty fortunate with sandflies. They don't seem to like me all that much, or else I've not yet encountered a horde of them. I use a natural repellant to deter them, which so far works really well. I've not had to resort to DEET as many people do. When they do bite me, I will often have an acute local reaction, with swelling and a little pain, that will last a few hours and then disappear completely. No lasting itch, nothing. 

My drive back down the west coast from Karamea was pretty uneventful. Having already visited many places on previous trips, including the area around Punakaiki, I drove south all day and checked in to a hostel in Franz Josef. I'd not actually stayed there before, having usually slept at Hokitika or Fox. The town was dead, with many businesses closed. It is a town that relies very heavily on international tourism, visiting the glacier for which the town is named, so I did my best to support those businesses that were open by eating out. Unfortunately the hot pools were closed....

I drove out to Okarito to scope out a possible packrafting mission up the estuary but the wind was up so I just took a few photos instead. I also checked out Lake Mapourika, which has a camping area and a kiwi sanctuary on the other side of the lake. Future missions for spring and summer....

Then it was south to Wanaka, stopping at Ship Creek on the way to enjoy a short walk in a rare kahikatea swamp forest. This wood used to be used to pack cheese!!

Now I'm back in Wanaka getting ready for another ski season!

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