Glacier County

A lovely fine morning with clear blue skies and rather warm, a great day to travel on heading further south and deeper into South Westland. We are in the final stages of our journey with much more to discover. Before heading away we pulled into Fox Glacier, you can't leave the Glacier county without a glacier shot.

Fox Glacier is 13 km long making it the longest glacier in the Westland National Park. It comes closer to sea level than any other temperate region glacier in the world. This image shows the top half, I'll post a link
in due course to my shot of the whole glacier. Fox Glacier area offers many walks some with amazing views of Mount Tasman and Mount Cook.

From here the road took us inland passing through native bush consisting of Rimu and Kahikatea trees, ferns and tree ferns before breaking out onto the coastline at Bruce Bay where the Tasman Sea was calm and sparkling under the bright sun. A small settlement remains here after the gold rush left town many years ago. Albert Hunt started a greenstone rush in 1864. In 1866 Hunt arrived in Hokitika with a hundredweight of gold and was granted a claim south of Bruce Bay.

We continued on to Lake Paringa where there were more beautiful reflections on the calm water, passed Lake Moeraki where the breeze was sending ripples through the water and made a short stop at Knights Point with its spectacular views of the Tasman Sea. Here there is a plaque which commemorates the official opening of the through route linking the road to the north with the road south from the glaciers. It was opened by the Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. K. J. Holyoake, in November 1965. It was now possible to travel by road from Otago direct to Westland.

Our next stop was at Ship Creek Walk, another recommended scenic stop for the 'must do' list. We took time to explore the Ship Creek Walk and the Dune Walk, taking us across the Haast coastal plain, where complex dune systems shelter tiny lakes and many fine stands of Kahikatea, New Zealand's tallest tree. Ship Creek got its name after part of a the Schomberg was wrecked off Cape Otway, and was washed up on the beach in 1856. It was a 2600-ton clipper on her maiden voyage - the largest wooden ship ever launched from a British yard. While coming back from our Dune walk we spied two dolphins playing in the surf.

By this stage it was late afternoon, we called into Haast to get some last minute supplies as from now on there would be no shops, no fuel stations, no cellphone or internet. The main road continues inland and heads towards Wanaka but we stayed on the coastline and ventured further south to a small secluded retreat on the Okuru River - this is real Whitebait territory. Our retreat is not glamerous, just a rustic bach which would 'come alive' during the 10 weeks of the Whitebait season starting in September. There are so many Whitebait stands on all the rivers, it really brings it home just how big the Whitebait industry is here - I'll talk more about this in a day or two.

As the sun began to set, Hubby and I sat on the deck overlooking the Okuru River enjoying a glass or two of a fine red wine - This ends Day 11 of our West Coast adventure :)

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