The West Coast is famous for its early settler and gold mining legacy, its eighty percent coverage of luscious New Zealand native bush, its heritage and nature walks, its art and crafts people, it quartz jade and coal, its glaciers, its bays and mountains, and of course, its RAIN!
And where there is water there are waterfalls. This was to be the theme of today’s road trip. We left Wanaka (and our illustrious host) in the morning, briefly stopping in Hawea to have coffee with Doug, then straight into the west coast bush and over the mountain pass of Haast. It is a gorgeous stretch of road and we were lucky enough to do it during a snow storm, and after a bit of tomfoolery in the snow it wasn’t long before we arrived at the first of the three waterfalls bush walks you pass on the drive through the pass.
Fantail Falls was pretty. It is hard to believe these falls once helped construct the Haast highway, where a Pelton water wheel at its base was used to power road making machinery in the late 1800s.
Thunder Creek Falls was tall. The fall signals the end to Thunder Creek which then drops 28 meters into the Haast River. After the retreat of the southern alp glaciers, the Haast River has gouged a ravine the height of the waterfall. Some of the local folk call these falls the “Ninety Foot Fall”
Roaring Billy Falls was loud. Across the ever expanding but beautiful jade-green Haast River, on the opposite embankment, the Roaring Billy Fall is better heard than seen. To add to this short work, the stony river bed is worth exploring, as it is covered in rocks of varying colours and patterns that includes interesting quartz and jade infusions.
To top our day off the spectrum of light put on a spectacular show at Jackson’s Bay. A break in cloud cover above the bay inserted a bright rainbow that positioned itself just off the end of the Jackson Bay Wharf. Quite Spectacular! “Woohoo – Double Rainbow!” This made up for not being able to spot any penguins.