Wellington and the West Coast of the South Island

It’s been a while so strap in for a long-ish update.

After 2 days of rain in National Park village (where I caught up on my previous blog posts), we headed south to Wellington (or Wellie-bobs as mum called it 😄). It was still raining when we arrived in Wellington. I went on a tour around the parliament building in the afternoon. The NZ parliament building is known as the Beehive:

It continued to rain after I’d finished the tour so then it was a quick dash to the supermarket and then an evening of reading and watching Dawson’s Creek on my iPad. The dialogue is as wordy as I remembered, Dawson’s hair is terrible, I would totally still wear Joey’s wardrobe, and the soundtrack is awesome.

The next day I visited the Te Papa national museum. It is a massive museum over 6 floors with lots of different exhibits including lots of stuff on plate tectonics (you’ll remember from an earlier blog post that I like all that kind of stuff), wildlife in NZ (lots of which is only found in NZ), and an interesting exhibit on Gallipoli. I spent a good chunk of the day there before heading to the Wellington Museum later in the afternoon.

After being a bit museumed out, I went for a long walk around the botanical gardens the following day. You can take a cable car from the city centre up to the botanical gardens, where you get a great view of the city.

After a nice walk around the gardens I headed back to the centre for a wander round, followed by a nice pint of cider. Although it should probably have been a Guinness as it was St Patrick’s Day.

The following day was an early start to catch the ferry to the South Island. The Cook Strait (which separates the 2 main islands) is a narrow stretch of water, but the ferry journey is 3 and a half hours as the ferry has to negotiate its way through the Marlborough Sounds. We arrived in Picton at lunchtime and then drove through Nelson (doesn’t bear much resemblance to either the one in Lancashire or the one in south Wales) before heading to the next stop in Marahou. Marahou is on the edge of Abel Tasman National Park, and it’s not somewhere I’ve been on either of my previous 2 trips to NZ. 

I stayed 3 nights (2 full days) in Marahou. On the first day I did a trip which involved about 3 hours of kayaking in the morning, out from Marahou to Watering Cove, and then a 4 hour (12km) hike back to Marahou on the Abel Tasman Coastal Path. It was absolutely stunning.

The following day I walked back along the coastal path for about 90 minutes and fell asleep on a beach for most of the afternoon.

The next day we continued our journey down the West Coast to Westport. There’s not much to see in Westport itself, but nearby is Cape Foulwind where there is a sea colony (spot the seals!)

In the evening we had a scavenger hunt around Westport. It’s a town where you have to make your own entertainment.

We continued our journey down the west coast the next day. The first stop of the day was at the pancake rocks. Guess how they got their name:

After stopping in a rainy Greymouth for supplies, we headed to Franz Josef Glacier where we were staying for 2 nights. One of the best things I’ve done previously in NZ was take a helicopter flight to the glacier and then spent a few hours walking on the glacier. Having done this before, I couldn’t really justify doing it again, and it turned out to be just as well because for the 2 nights we were in Franz Josef it absolutely poured down. Part of the town was flooded when the river burst its banks, and the whole town was issued with a ‘boil water’ notice. It made the national news here.

As the weather was fairly miserable, I had several glasses of wine on our first evening there whilst watching England produce another fine batting collapse against Afghanistan. The satellite signal couldn’t cope with the weather and gave up when we were 85-7.

After a slightly slow start the next day (and with the weather, there was no need to rush!), I went jade carving with one of the girls on the bus, and then we walked to a glacier viewpoint:

The glacier is somewhere in the clouds!

Typically, the day we left Franz Josef was a beautiful day. We stopped to look at Fox Glacier (seeing as we were unable to see Franz Josef Glacier):

And we also had a short walk to Lake Matheson, which is a mirror lake:

Mount Cook and Mount Tasman are the 2 peaks on the right, though I forget which way round they are.

As we drove towards Wanaka, we passed lots more stunning scenery. I will never get tired of looking at these views.

As Wanaka is inland, I’ll talk about that on my next post. Hopefully I’ll get myself organised and post it in the next couple of days.

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