Travelling along the West coast of the South Island in NZ

March 21st, we are in the library of Invercargill. We just went to Stirling Point (Bluff), the most southern point on the island. I had Bluff oysters and they were indeed delicious! It is a NZ delicacy, harvested from March to August in the Foveaux Strait here in Bluff. We are lucky to be here at the right time. Tomorrow we will drive to the Catlins and hopefully see some penguins. It is cold here, 12 degrees Celsius but it is not raining.

Travelling on the South island is like driving from one national park to another. From the 4.7million people living in NZ, 76% live on the North Island. On average there is less than 15 people per square kilometer in NZ (contrast this with Belgium where there are 892 people per square kilometer). Their conservations efforts are really incredible. A lot of indigenous species were lost both by Maoris and European settlers hunting and farming, but they managed to change their behaviour after realising the disastrous effect on flora and fauna. The NZ Department of Conservation manages about 30% of the NZ land as parks. There are 14 national parks in NZ and 31 marine reserves. Besides these there are many regional protected areas.

Cape Foulwind, named by Captain James Cook in 1770 when his ship Endeavour was blown offshore from this point.
The Cape Foulwind Walkway leads to Tauranga Bay,where there is a fur seal colony.
Fur seal or Kekeno. They were at the brink of extinction in the 1800’s when Europeans hunted them for the meat and their pelts. In 1978 they were fully protected by the Marine Mammals Protection Act, and they have continued to grow in numbers ever since.
Pancake rock in Punakaiki.

Pancake rock is a very popular tourist destination, so we could not resist.
The pancake-layering of the limestone is created by immense pressure on alternating hard and soft layers of marine creatures and plant sediments.
Hokatika Gorge. The turquoise colour of the water is caused  by the combination of rock “flour”(fine powder of rock), glacial and river water.
Dorothy Falls in Hokitika.
Lake Kaniere in the evening.
Lake Kaniere early morning.
The Kaniere Water Race Walkway, following a channel that used to supply water to the gold mining operations. In 1864, Hokitika was the centre of the West Coast gold rush. We hiked the 20KM (10KM one way) walkway.

The next day we travelled to Franz Joseph Glacier where we did a Heli-hike on the glacier. More on that in the next blog.