Heading South From Franz Josef
From Franz Josef you are heading into an array of differing experiences, as the road takes you through postcard picture perfect iced capped mountainous and coastal views. Adorn with ecological and geographical features. The journey is fantastic in all weathers on clear sunny days the views are spectacular. On the rainy days the waterfalls and rivers are just magnificent (to say the least) as they carve there way through naturally formed gorges and culverts to the sea.
A point to remember Franz Josef currently has the only automatic teller machine (ATM) so it may pay to ensure you top up your cash before leaving, however most of the businesses en route will give cash out from there eftpos terminals.
Those keen on fishing should ensure they purchase a licence to fish the rivers and lakes you do not need a licence to fish in the sea. These can be purchased from the Department of Conservation (DOC) or from the service stations in both Franz and Fox Glaciers.
As you head south on your journey you will pass through the Fox Hills along a very windy and hilly picturesque road which takes approximately 20 - 30 minutes till your reach the Fox Glacier Township.
Lake matheson (aka mirror lake)
Is another Glacier Township offering guided glacial walks, scenic flights, lush native bush and coastal walks. Those planning to walk the Copeland track should register their intentions at the Department of Conservation in Fox Glacier before leaving.
" Lake Matheson, the famous reflection lake, is a five minute drive west of Fox township.
" Historic Gillespie's Beach, a wilderness of crashing surf and distant snowcapped mountains, known for its seal colony and colourful gold mining history, is 25 minutes west by car.
This is a picture of Copeland Track/Welcome Flat approximately 1 and a half hours drive from Franz Josef heading south - 6-8 hours walk one way. A popular overnight tramp which; gives a glimpse of Westland's unique forest and mountain scenery. Natural hotpools at Welcome Flat are an added attraction. This is a cherished walk by many a traveller, who enjoy the peaceful soak in the naturally formed geothermic natural spring water hot pools
Is a Rural Township approxmately 40kms south of Fox Glacier it is habitat to several Bird species that live in the many creeks and estuaries. There are native bush and coastal walking tracks, all along this coastal plain and excellent sea to native bush snow peaked Mountainous scapes the river mouth lends its self to some fine fishing experiences.
Home to The new Te Tauraka Wahi a Maui Marae, the first marae on Tai Poutini for over 140 years and opened in January 2005 (more information). Bruce Bay is full of history, beauty, and fantastic coastal and bush walks, great place for a picnic lunch or to streatch those legs. This little town consisting of six houses is where the road and the coast meet this area is facinating both in fine weather and spectacular in stormy weather
South Westand Salmon Farm:
A short distance from Bruce Bay brings you to the Salmon Farm if the weather at Bruce Bay was inclement then a great cup of tea and bite to eat can be had here. It is also the place if you have car bound passengers to stretch their legs and for a small fee they can feed the fish and enjoy the surrounding panoramic views.
It is here that the road gangs met up and joined the road north and south in 1965 so the West Coast Highway is a relatively young road. It is said that knights Point got its name from a dog owned by one of the road workers. Knights Point is very scenic and the views are stunning looking up into the southern Alps or out over the rugged shoreline into the vast Tasman sea. ( see pictures and lean more by clicking here)
The Haast Pass Known as the gateway to the South and said to be on the edge of wilderness, Haast is a Township built near the rugged coast and in the foot hills. A visit to their website would do more justice than my ramblings ( click here to learn more and see some stunning pictures) Haast has some of the finest Hunting and Fishing Tours and guides that guarantee a catch dont forget to check them out.
You head out of Haast through to Wanaka travelling through steep gorges filled with endless waterfalls and picturesque landscapes.