The Wild Wild West of NZ’s South Island
When I was seven I used to wait for my mother to finish the weekly grocery shopping. Not in a park or a library but in a milkbar. Every Saturday morning, I would take my twenty cents pocket money, order twelve cents worth of hot chips and buy an eight cent strawberry milkshake. Sitting on the soft black vinyl swivel stools at the long bench I savoured every chip that crunched and melted in my mouth, feeling very grown up. To this day I love chips, in particularly Fish and Chips, and thankfully so do New Zealanders.
Hokitika, a small town south of Punakaiki, abut half an hour from Greymouth. It is known as the home of Greenstone, but I would like to award it with another title. It has the best fish and chip shop on the west coast, with awesome chips. That’s lucky for me, right? Well it also has amazing homemade mussel fritters and of course local fish, so whatever you do plan to have lunch at Hokitika. There is lots to see and a good stop before you head south on the two hour trip to the glaciers.
The strip of land between the pounding waves of the Tasman Sea and the foothills of the Southern Alps is very narrow. As the moist water laden clouds hit the land they travel up and over the mountains, dropping their cargo as they go. So make sure you have a raincoat while you are there as it is wet much of the time.
The lush vegetation that results is wild and dense, with a definite prehistoric feeling. There is so much timber washed into the sea that the stony beaches are littered with tonnes of twisted grey driftwood. The glaciers are a must to see. We stayed at Franz Joseph but took the trip to Fox Glacier, which has a good viewing area after a nice walk. This was one place that I was grateful to have the thermos cause it was raining and cold by the time we got back to the car. * Next week – on to Queenstown