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On Walkabout From: Hanmer Springs to the Wild West Coast

The next morning my wife and I woke up in the caravan park in New Zealand’s South Island city of Hanmer Springs.  We had spent an unbelievably cold night in the campervan and wish we had a heater of some kind with us in the campervan. Our body heat definitely came in handy that night. Despite the cold weather I had also begun to come down with some illness that was leaving me running to the restroom constantly with diarrhea. I don’t know what the sickness was from but I suspect it was from food poisoning from something I ate in Kaikoura.

After having to run to the restroom yet again that morning, I decided to go for a walk and watch the sun rise over the mountains considering the clouds had finally parted and I was able for the first time to get quite a good look at the South Island’s beautiful Southern Alps:


Hanmer Springs sits in a valley that is just completely surrounded by these magnificent snow capped peaks:


Hanmer Springs was making me feel like I was back in my home state of Colorado because the mountains looked so similar:



Hanmer Springs is not a very big town and only has a population of 729 people.  The town is reportedly popular with New Zealanders living in Christchurch who favor Hanmer Springs to relax at because it is not swamped with international tourists like places such as Queenstown and Te Anau are.  After visiting the place I can understand why New Zealanders like this place but it is absolutely beautiful there:


I was hoping to spend a day here checking out the mineral springs that give the town its name but unfortunately my wife and I lost a day on our planned itinerary because of the poor weather in Kaikoura and thus had to sacrifice the day we had planned to check out Hanmer Springs:


So instead of checking out the area we instead drove off after breakfast that morning to our next destination which was to the Franz Josef Glacier via the west coast city of Greymouth.  To get to Greymouth we had to first continue our traverse over the Southern Alps.  As the sun came out the mountains became increasingly even more scenic:


The beautiful valley that Hanmer Springs is located in has a number of rivers that travel through it, which makes me only imagine how good the fishing must be here:


As we continued to drive up the valley towards the high peaks where Lewis Pass awaited to reach Greymouth; it appeared more storm clouds were heading for us:


As we drove up and into the mountains the difference in the environment was quite evident.  The valley we drove through was largely treeless grazing land while these mountains are heavily forested and emerald green in color.  When I stopped to take a picture of this old steam powered locomotive that was used decades ago to transport wood from these mountains to the port city of Greymouth, it began to down pour heavily on us once again:


As the rain came down I just hoped that it wouldn’t turn into snow while we traversing Lewis Pass because I imagine the campervan we were driving would not handle to well in snow.  Fortunately it did not snow and we reached Greymouth safely, however the rain still continued to pour down.

Greymouth is the West Coast’s largest city of about 14,000 people which is nearly half of the entire population of the entire West Coast.  The heavy rain pretty much stopped up from doing any sightseeing in Greymouth, so all we did was find a place to eat lunch at and then continued on our way to Franz Josef Glacier.

What absolutely amazed my wife and I as we drove south on the West Coast’s main thoroughfare, Highway 6 was how many bridges were one way:



Yes on the main highway on the West Coast you have to drive across one way bridges which means you have to look and see if another car is coming before you try and drive across the bridge.  This was highly annoying and was only made worse when people were driving their bicycles across the bridges as well:


However, these bridges became even more absurd when we had to begin traversing bridges that were not only one way but you had to look out for and give way to trains that move across these bridges as well:


The infrastructure on the South Island is poor to say the least which really surprised my wife and me because when we think of New Zealand we think of a prosperous first world nation, which for the most part it is, but the infrastructure on the South Island seemed like something out of a third world nation.  Come on New Zealand you can do better then this.

Anyway under the cover of darkness we eventually made it to a caravan park just outside of Franz Josef village without going head on with another vehicle, hitting anyone on a bicycle, or being smashed into by a train.  The rain continued to fall all that night which made my frequent walks to the toilet all that more unpleasant.  Hopefully the next day would be better.

Next Posting: Video of the Hanmer Springs Mountains

Prior Posting: Video of the Mountains Outside Kaikoura

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