We continue our first camping/sightseeing tour of the south island of New Zealand. We decided the first two nights worked out well, so we’re making a several day trip out of it. On Monday the weather suddenly changed in the morning. A front was coming through. I had just got the last post out and it started sprinkling. So we rapidly took down the tent and put all the stuff away and left the campground.
We drove into town at Hanmer Springs and had a brunch. Then we waited for the library to open so we could use their free Internet. We did some research and decided to go to Lewis Pass at a campsite there and wait for the rain to pass. All went well, and we found the campsite by the river which was raging strong thanks to the rain.
The mountains and forests were beautiful. As were the rivers and creeks along the way. We waited for the rain to stop – which it did after a couple of hours. We then drove up a couple of miles to the trailhead of the St. James Walkway. There we did some sightseeing and took a short nature walk amongst all five types of the common beech trees found in the mountains here. There’s a beautiful reflection lake nearby and we took some pictures.
We went back to the campsite and stayed inside to avoid the biting insects. The next morning the weather was clearing and the sun was out. We did part of the trail down along a beautiful creek.
We continued driving down towards the west coast to Greymouth. Along the way we stopped at a waterfall hike and saw a really nice waterfall. We also had lunch by the growing (in size) river as we continued downhill. We stopped at the town of Reefton which was a famous gold mine town and the first town to get electricity in New Zealand.
After filling our gas tank (it cost $98 NZ to fill a normal sized 15 gallon tank at $2 per liter), we continued to Greymouth (at the mouth of the Grey river). After stopping at a McDonald’s in town, we went to the 4 PM tour of the Monteith’s Brewery. The highlight was the opportunity to taste 8 different flavors of beer at the end of the tour.
We went down to see the beach and our first sighting of the Tasman Sea. After the short stop there, we continued driving south along the shoreline and then turned east and started heading back up into the mountains via Arthur’s Pass. It started raining again on the way up. We stopped at Jackson at a campsite called “Jackson’s Retreat”. This is another full service camping location which has a very nice lodge with a communal kitchen and very clean bathrooms and showers.