Onwards to the Great Southland: Christchurch to Franz Josef

Leaving Christchurch at 7am because we decided that we needed to pack as much as we could into each day, our adventure continued to the Great Southland.

We set out along state route 73… or, more commonly known as Arthur’s Pass to head off to the West Coast, our first destination… Greymouth (the largest town on the West coast) and home to the Montieth’s Brewery.

Now… I know that I said driving in the evening is prime… but I guess driving early in the morning has its merits too. Morning driving blesses you with sunrises and fogs, which make for some obscure views and sceneries.

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Starving as always, and, because it was a Sunday, the only option was to go to the brewery for lunch (what a shame!). I tasted the Montieth’s porter and now I am slightly addicted… amongst the beer, they also have a reasonable tapas menu…

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Content with my ribs and prawns we drove further south to Hokitika, we didn’t quite know what to do in here, luckily… New Zealand’s Department of Conservation is on the ball when it comes to information centres and kiosks, a quick stop at a roadside kiosk and we read about Hokitika gorge and decided that we absolutely had to go.

33km’s out of Hokitika, the gorge houses a milky-turqouise river which can be crossed by a classic swing bridge. This is a must see! The water is a brilliant colour and the drive out will take you through farm lands set off with incredible snow-capped peaks that I can’t seem to stop raving on about.

View of the swing bridge
View of the swing bridge
Keates viewing the Hokitika Gorge
Keates viewing the Hokitika Gorge
Me being a classic tourist
Me being a classic tourist
Turqouise water coloured from powdered Schist and Greywacke rock, melted ice and ancient glacial minerals
Turqouise water coloured from powdered Schist and Greywacke rock, melted ice and ancient glacial minerals
The Hokitika River
The Hokitika River
Farmlands along the drive
Farmlands along the drive
Me loving these farmlands
Me loving these farmlands

As we were leaving Hokitika, we came across two Dutch hitchhikers… naturally, and because hitchikers make for great car conversation, we picked them up.

Maartje and Jorn where fantastic additions to our squad. We drove into Franz Josef to stay at the Rainforest Retreat and ended up partying with our new friends… challenging them to an international-scale feud on the pool table… let the record show that Australia won (though, they will probably give you a different version of events)

The Rainforest is awesome and gets a huge thumbs up from this broke journeyer… prices are low and facilities are as good as they come, they also had a prime bar and restaurant. The best part, of course, the spa on site.

Sleep was needed as we planned to hike both a glacier and the underrated Copland track as well as drive the Haast pass to Wanaka the following day… Dutch in tow.

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