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Thread: New Zealand, S Island, west coast

  1. #1

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    New Zealand, S Island, west coast

    Am traveling to New Zealand's South Island, going up the west coast from Queenstown to Christchurch. Unfortunately not doing Milford Sound (at least not yet) due to time constraints but wonder if anyone has any suggestions on photo locations - apart from its all wonderful. Will be going in end of October.
    Thanks!
    Geoff

  2. #2
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: New Zealand, S Island, west coast

    I was on the section a few times -- a couple time hitch-hiking (1974, 1981) and on bike (1987)...the first time in midwinter and the other two were end of November/December. Expect wind, rain and sandflies. However with wind there will be less sandfly issues. Haast Pass has been paved since I was there, so it is an easy drive...depending on how many caravans and tourists in campervans you'll get stuck behind.

    Enjoyable drive along the Haast River to the coast. Lots of places to stop, a waterfall falling right along the road -- might miss it if driving too fast.

    Franz Josef Glacier is a must. I liked it better than Fox Glacier, but both have been retreating even before my first visit in 1975, so changes happen. Both are longer hikes to the glacier faces! If you are lucky, lots of rain right before you get there -- lots of waterfalls coming off the cliffs up by the glacier. I was there for 6 days, could photograph on three of them.

    Okarito -- cute small town on coast...but has changed since 1987 -- no stores/cafes back then.

    Before heading over to Authur's Pass, go 35 miles further up the coast to Punakaiki...otherwise known as Pancake Rocks. Also a small hike to Truman Cove is nice.

    Authur's Pass -- hikes galore right out of town -- get higher up for great view of the Southern Alps -- you are in the middle of them. Steep, but worth it.

    There are some interesting rocks between Authurs pass and Christchurch, but I have forgotten their name.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails FranzGlacierNZ.jpg   Pancake Rocks, Punakaiki, NZ_16x20.jpg   Waiko River, NZ_16x20.jpg   Falls, Franz Josef Glacier, NZ_16x20.jpg  
    Last edited by Vaughn; 3-Sep-2019 at 20:40.
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  3. #3

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    Re: New Zealand, S Island, west coast

    Thanks for this. Franz Josef is on the itinerary... as is Punakaiki and Arthur's Pass... And those rocks are called Castle Hill Rocks. They look great. Exciting....

  4. #4

    Re: New Zealand, S Island, west coast

    Am in NZ, one of the glaciers has just stopped vehicle entrance by some margin because of the cost of road repair to the face and would be quite a trek with large gear. A long drive which is it's own destination with a long drive out on the same road is Jacksons Bay. A very small fishing port with some interesting rock formations in the harbour and around a small peninsular, some penguins present at certain times of the year. Truman track, offers quite lovely limestone cliffs draped at the tops with forest and at points leading down onto the beach. Shanty Town, a touristy stopping point to discover the history of most of the West Coast with emphasis on gold mining and coal mining exhibitions and displays with local town life of the settlers also on display. Denniston, a now derelict former coal mine noted for its incline that used to run from the plateau and coal carts running down the mountain by cable systems. Still an interesting area of history with some displays of the industry spread out on the top of the mountain. Mitchells Gully gold mine, lots of relics from the mining industry and some pleasant tracks through carved tunnels. Motukiekie Beach, some unique sea stacks and cliff faces, good for silhouettes against one of the coasts best features being incredible sunsets over the sea in the right conditions. Charming Creek Walkway, pleasant area with historical relics lying around and disused rail lines and tunnels, swing bridge, waterfall. Of course Pancake rocks, strangely you should hope for terrifically bad weather to view these as the noise and sight and the woosh of air coming up from the main chamber is a great experience, very wet from spray but worth it. Then just in general along the coastal road there are many interesting limestone rock out crops that fall into the sea and the odd seal colony around. Arthurs pass inland is very scenic with many many short or half day walks with waterfalls galore and dense mossy fern and Beech tree paths to explore. Enjoy your stay and the one thing that you'll want to remember is that our sandflies love visitors and at times in certain places can form black clouds in local patches like just before beach areas where there could be standing water and not much wind. Keep in mind most NZers like to be helpful and if you explain you're there to photograph their special part of the world they may just tell you where certain local areas of interest may be. We seem to be very susceptible to flattery of our outdoors and like to show it off so telling us how amazing you're finding it is an automatic ice breaker, unless you're in a touristy spot then they've heard it all before. Castle hill is best in early morning or late evening, it draws lots of visitors being on the main highway between Christchurch and the West Coast and a good place to stop and have a driving break.

  5. #5
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: New Zealand, S Island, west coast

    When I was going to uni for a year outside of Christchurch (1975) my Ecology class took a field trip up to the Denniston area to check out a coal mine that was on fire -- probably still is.

    Below...Truman Cove: One of my favorite images from the 1986/87 bike trip. Took it coming off a 3-week drought of photographing (due to rain and the flu...a week in my tent in the rain of Westport!) Before I took this image, I took several 4x5s of a be-headed stoat I found on the highway, posing it in several places at the beach -- anything to get the creative juices flowing again...it worked (but I have never shown the stoat images).
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Truman Cove, NZ_16x20.jpg  
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  6. #6

    Re: New Zealand, S Island, west coast

    https://www.google.com/search?q=coal...hrome&ie=UTF-8

    Possibly the second mine fire on this page. Crazy to see how long these things can burn until they are actively tackled.

  7. #7
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: New Zealand, S Island, west coast

    Quote Originally Posted by DuncanJames View Post
    https://www.google.com/search?q=coal...hrome&ie=UTF-8

    Possibly the second mine fire on this page. Crazy to see how long these things can burn until they are actively tackled.
    We took samples of leaves to test for sulfur compounds. Too long ago to remember which mine. We also helped with lichen surveys in Christchurch where coal was still used for heating and cooking. Some lichen can't tolerate SO2, some can...so the relative presence of the different species was an indication of the amount of SO2 was present in an area. Now electronic detection devises are common.
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  8. #8
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: New Zealand, S Island, west coast

    Hi Vaughn. My nephew spent six months doing a climber's version of a travel magazine feature about the South Island. His usual sidekick from cold weather climbs in the arctic and Patagonia went with him. One night they were in the climber's hut of Mt Cook and got in an argument with another climber, so went outside to sleep. The hut is atop a pinnacle in order to avoid avalanche risk. Early the next morning, a kea - one of those huge fluffy high altitude parrots - grabbed one of their boots and flew off, then dropped it nearly a mile away on the glacier, with many intervening crevasses. After they finally spotted it using binoculars, it took an entire day to retrieve it. Reminds me of encountering a tent in the Enchantments in the North Cascades, and seeing a young mountain goat running off with a hiking boot to chew up, while the other goats were distracting the camper. The poor guy was hopping around on the snow on one foot hopelessly trying to chase them. It was a six thousand foot grade back down to the trailhead; so his friends probably either had to buy another boot somewhere or have him rescued. Clever critters. I put my own boots in a duffle bag and used it as a pillow.

  9. #9
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: New Zealand, S Island, west coast

    My intro to keas was when I took a hike from a research station in the foothills of the Alps (Mt Torlesse). After hiking up to the peak and making my way down a ridge, 5 keas took off from across the valley and encircled me. Quite interesting. A bird who looks like it could do some damage!
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  10. #10

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    Re: New Zealand, S Island, west coast

    Thank you all for both the tips and the history. Its all rather incredible. Looking forward to seeing this first hand.

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