The South Island of New Zealand -winter 2015/16 travel blog

The robust waves of the Tasman Sea

Left the sheep behind, now it is gold rush history

We left our cozy studio apartment in Tasman today and moved to the west coast of the South Island. For those of you planning on coming to NZ someday, beware that the distance charts that tell you the number of kilometers and time to reach a location can be way off if you have to drive the winding, curvy mountain roads. It took almost 6 hours to drive from Tasman to Greymouth --the charts said 3.5. One of the NZ books we were reading confirmed this and warned against being to optimistic about travel times. The drive is pretty but the bends and switchbacks really make for a rough ride. I don't get car sick ever -- but today those six hours of motion caused dizziness and a headache --I was glad when we arrived. Be sure and fill up with gas before you leave Nelson, and again at Westport as you drive toward Greymouth. The gas stations (or towns for that matter) are few and far between with only a few that even have a store to stop at. We are spending two nights at Greymouth. Most hotels in this town are the drive up motels of the 50's and 60's. That is the case in much of New Zealand. This town is about 13,500 people according to the books but it seems bigger (has a McDonalds, two grocery stores, a KFC and Dominoes pizza!). Plus shops along it's Main Street etc. Westport has about 6,000 and it has about five banks, a grocery store, and shops along Main Street. Greymouth is the largest town on the west coast. The west coast is sparsely populated, has rugged shorelines with spirited waves - not for swimming. This is the Tasman Sea - the large body of water that separates Australia and New Zealand. This is a lower area of the South Pacific (south far-eastern Pacific might be more accurate). This west coast area has a history steeped in the gold rush era and coal mines ((which are closed now). There are a few national parks in this region and it reminded us a lot of some Hawaii coastal drives and even some along the Oregon coast - with large rock structures coming out from the ocean. Tomorrow we will explore this area and see what it has to offer.

Steps 20th - 17,800. Steps 21st - 14,397. Drove 6 hours today -- Drove 1 hour yesterday

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