The journey up the west coast from Franz Joseph to Greymouth should have been spectacular (another word that’s getting a good hammering in this blog) but the weather didn’t do us any favours and such views that there were were limited to watching heavy seas beating against the coastline. Considering they get rain on at least 200 days of the year and the region’s described as a temperate rainforest we probably shouldn’t have been too surprised.
Aside from a short-lived gold rush in the mid-1800s the West Coast region hasn’t really had too many lucky breaks. Apparently there’s some coal and of course there’s logging and fishing, but the real problem is the lack of road and rail infrastructure and the consequent difficulty in gaining access to the area across the Southern Alps. As you drive along you gain the impression that this part of the country is the poor relation in comparison with some of the other, prettier and wealthier parts of South Island that we’ve visited over the past couple of weeks. They call it the Wild West, and it’s easy to see what they mean. We did, however, enjoy our brief stop at Hokitika where a wander through the Museum told us all about the history of the town and a walk along the beach will provide a great introduction to my new book – ‘101 things to do with driftwood’!
Greymouth doesn’t get a terribly good write-up in the guide books, so we took them at their word and gave the town a miss – though we did deign to stop overnight on a large open space overlooking the sea to the north of the town along with a dozen or so fellow travellers.