2 Weeks in New Zealand’s South Island. Day 14 : Fox Glacier to Greymouth
New Zealand is not called ‘the land of the long white cloud’ for nothing. I love clouds. They’re fantastic for photography. But when you’ve had opportunities to explore glaciers via helicopter in both Mt Cook and Queenstown but instead leave it until the end of your trip, you’re really tempting fate in a country with a cloudy reputation. It rained all night on our second night at Fox Glacier and with heavy hearts we dragged ourselves out of bed at the crack of dawn and mosied up to the helicopter office knowing full well that our glacier landing flight would be cancelled a third time. Please don’t make the mistake we did and be sure to take a helicopter flight wherever and whenever the weather is best.
Instead we packed our things and drove to the nearby township of Franz Josef (20 mins from Fox Glacier) and found it was bigger and more developed than where we had stayed with the most expensive petrol I’ve ever seen in my life. Outside of town we discovered gorgeous Lake Mapourika where I took photos and Mum skimmed rocks.
We drove on to small but spirited Hari Hari where a stop at Willows Crafts will be the highlight of your day. The delightful shop owner, Nolly (who last I heard was looking for someone to buy her shop) is the kind of human you just want to bundle up and take home with you so you can bring her out to entertain her friends. And those life size man cut-outs who guide you along the Franz Josef Glacier Walk? That’s her son, which she will tell you with glee (so act surprised). Don’t forget to peruse her interesting wares (and garden!)
It was dreary weather so we virtually skipped past Hokitika but if I were to do this trip again I probably would have chosen to stay there to give us time to explore Hokitika Gorge and the quaint little township.
People rave about the drive along the West Coast and while it is wild and rocky and scenic, had we been short on time I don’t think I’d have regretted missing it. Still, we didn’t miss any opportunity for a roadside pullover to snap the scenery.
Our stop for the night was Greymouth but I was keen to see Punakaiki’s Pancake Rocks and blowholes so we drove the extra 40 minutes north. The scenery here is out of this world and if you haven’t spotted a Weka chances are good you’ll find one here.
We’d have liked to travel on to Westport but were pushed for time so we turned the car around and headed back to Greymouth, which is a bit of a dreary old town, but we had a lovely stay at Alpine Rose Motel and the pizza at Do Duck Inn across the road is definitely drool worthy.
We stayed at: Alpine Rose Motel, Greymouth (complete with spa!)
We stopped at: Franz Josef, Lake Mapourika, Hari Hari, Hokitika, Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, Greymouth
We wore (in spring): Thermal layers, jeans, long sleeve shirt
Distance: Fox Glacier to Greymouth is approximately 2 hours 40 minutes drive without scenic stops. Greymouth to Punakaiki Pancake Rocks is approximately 1 hour 20 minutes return (to Greymouth).