The West Coast, the most remote area of New Zealand

After my harrowing adventure on the Abel Tasman Track, I took a bus from Nelson down to Queenstown along the West Coast with a stopover in Franz Josef. The bus ride from Nelson to Franz Josef was not that interesting; it was raining. The bus was also almost empty; there were five of us headed to Franz Josef on December 28. stayed at the Rainforest Retreat for the next two nights, which was a large complex complete with a campground and a spa area.

Most tourists head to Franz Josef to walk on the Glacier with a guide. Instead, I hiked the Alex Knob Track, which is a 17 km sub-alpine tramp and includes a 1000 meter climb and has great views of the Franz Josef Glacier. Unfortunately, once I reached the alpine section, the afternoon clouds had set in and obscured the view. But I finally saw my first Kea, which is an alpine parrot. I hiked the Milford Track and the Routeburn Track and didn’t spot the cheeky birds, but I finally saw them flying around Alex Knob. This was a hard hike and not designed for short people. I love my hiking poles; they helped so much.

I left Franz Josef on December 31 to head to Queenstown, and this bus was full being that it was New Year’s Eve and Queenstown is a popular destination for New Year’s. The scenery along the southern West Coast was breathtaking, and my camera did not rest during this bus trip. I wish I would have had more time to spend on the West Coast because three days is not enough to appreciate this area of New Zealand. Queenstown was packed for New Year’s with accommodation booked out. Luckily, my fellow Zumba instructor Hayley, still lives in Queenstown so I had a place to crash for the night. The fireworks were pretty good as they were over Lake Wakatipu.

I’m now in Arrowtown, which is a 20 minute drive from Queenstown, working at Poplar Lodge and Pannikins Cafe until the end of February when I will head back to Christchurch to catch my flight to Thailand!

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