Once back to the main highway from Okarito we headed south, towards the Glaciers. But first, we came to Lake Mapourika. This is another gorgeous West Coast lake in the bush, carved by a long-gone glacier. We were just in time to catch the lake calm. While we were stopped there the breeze came up, and changed it to a different scene.
From there we headed to Franz Joseph (for fuel for Suzi motorhome) and then Fox Glacier (for fuel for us). We’d worked frequently at Fox Glacier a couple of summers ago, and it was interesting to stop for a while. It didn’t look like a lot had changed. When we worked there we drove between Hawea and Fox Glacier a number of times, and managed to tick off a few of the tourist stops. One I still wanted to see was Ship Creek, where the road gets back to the coast south of Knight’s Point.
I’d imagined it was a walk from the road to the coast, which you can’t see from the road. Actually, it was nothing like that. A short road off the main highway was soon at a large car park in the beach dunes. And then the forest walk headed back under the main highway, and up the Ship Creek/ Tauparikaka. But first we checked out the beach. Someone told us they’s seen a couple of dolphins in the surf, and sure enough there were. That was a nice thrill.
However, we’d come to explore the forest, so we set off along the track up the creek, under the road, and into some extraordinary forest. There was every shade of green, there were all sorts of trees, there were small trees and tall trees, there were ferns and mosses, there was the stream and there was swamp. It’s an awesome little walk.
The Ship Creek walk is a little gem. The West Coast is about a lot more than glaciers and pancake rocks. Most of all it is about forest, and the only way to appreciate the forest is to walk through some of it; any of it. There is lots on offer, from one end of the Coast to the other. The more you experience, the more you’ll understand the place. And the more you’ll appreciate the difficulties that faced the early explorers and travellers and settlers.