We left Franz Josef with a goal of making it all the way up to Westport before the end of the day.
The first stop was Hokitika. This town is the best place to buy jade on the west coast, so there was shopping to be done.
Maori spiritual leaders believe that certain pieces of greenstone have their own spirits, which chose their wearer, so carving or taking one for yourself is extremely bad luck as it would anger the spirit or guardian of the jade. Not wanting to take any chances and anger a spirit, I didn't take one for myself, my husband got one for me :)
After shopping there was just enough time to find a pie for lunch and do some cartwheels on the beach.
Next stop - Hokitika Gorge. We drove for what felt like forever through countryside and farmland before the blue water popped into view.
There was an awesome swing bridge to cross, and even a little time to hang around.
And then we were on the road again. The west coast drive between Greymouth to Westport was supposed to be one of the best. It was definitely gorgeous and echoed the Great Ocean Road that we're much more familiar with.
As the day wore on we made it to the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. The rocks are compressed layered limestone rocks giving them a "pancaked" look. Our timing wasn't right, but we're told that at high tide there are huge blowholes in the centre of the rocks where the sea is pushed through.
Finally, at just sundown we made it to Wesport. I had my hopes set on a great sunset picture as our holiday park backed onto this amazing beach, but the clouds had other ideas.
I was fascinated to find out that the black sands on the west coast of the south island get their black colour from the variety of minerals eroded from the surrounding gold mines in the Southern Alps.
There are similar beaches on the north island but they get their colour from volcanic rock.
Our last day of driving took us across the island from Westport to Christchurch
Mountains, blah, blah, lakes, blah, blah, twisty roads, blah, blah, blah. Then an afternoon stop in Hanmer Springs. Absolute bliss! While Scott and I spent a couple of hours indulging in the thermal pools, the kids happily played in the heated waterpark.
We rolled into Christchurch just in time to make some dinner and snuggle in for on last night in New Zealand and more importantly one last in the clown camper.
We had a few hours to fill in before heading to the airport the next day so we took ourselves on a tour of Christchurch.
It's a lovely colourful and fun city working hard to rebuild bigger and better after the 2011 earthquake.
The Re:Start Mall was one of my favourite parts. It's made entirely of shipping containers turned into shops and stacked to make cafe terraces. It was meant to be a temporary solution but it was so successful that it was partially relocated and renewed it's lease to stay. It was super cute and contemporary, I wish I'd had more time to spend there.
Surprise! We found one little reminder of home :)
It was a great 13 days. It was cozy at times in the camper but we made it into an adventure. We're sad that we just didn't have enough time to visit the north island as well, but it definitely gives us a reason to come back!