West Coast, New Zealand

After spending some time exploring the middle of New Zealand’s South Island, I was keen to get off the main tourist trail a bit and head to the west coast. Known for being remote and rugged, I knew it would be a great way to wind down my road trip and have some solo time in nature. My goal was to explore any random roads and towns I came across without any real plan or destination in mind. The drive from Lake Wanaka to the West Coast was one of the most jaw dropping i’ve ever experienced. I spent the first night at Cameron Flat Campsite, and it was a memorable one. It was pouring rain all evening and I relaxed in the back of my van with some chocolate and wine as rain and wind pelted the windows. As dusk turned to night, intense lightning and thunder boomed through the valley. It felt like I was inside the cumulonimbus itself!

The next morning revealed partly sunny skies and roaring rivers and waterfalls. I explored the nearby Blue Pools, which weren’t all that blue due to the runoff and grayish skies. Next, I made my way towards the coast, stopping off at random waterfalls and lookouts along the way. 100’s of waterfalls poured out of the deep valley, and there were many mud and rock slides to navigate. I felt like I was the only person on the road which was both awesome and eerie. It really reminded me of Kauai.

I eventually made it to the West Coast and dropped south as far as one can drive on that side of New Zealand to the small enclave of Jackson Bay. There is a great fish and chips shack there, The Cray Pot, which was delicious! I spent some time exploring the beaches there before heading north. I eventually found a hidden spot to freedom camp along the beach, and it was one of the most stunning campsites i’ve ever had. The only bummer was the intense sand flies! Overall, the West Coast is a worthy side trip to any South Island trip, and here are a few pics:

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