Stephen and I are making the most of our time in South Westland and we’re heading out to Gillespies Beach. Neither of us have never been here before so even the drive is an adventure. I don’t know why, but I envisaged it being a straight drive out to the sea following farmland – wrong! It does do that for about 3kms then veers sharply to the right and straight into NZ native forest and winds it way down through to the sea. It is about 20kms from Fox Glacier village or 12kms from Lake Matheson.
We’ve only just started along the farm section when Gerard pulls over to the side of the road pointing back to the mountains – “great views”……… Wow, he is not wrong – more like “stunning views” of the mountains and Fox Glacier coming right down the valley. There is a low bank of cloud just hovering above the tops of the mountains – almost like a silhouette.
Gillespies beach in itself is gorgeous. Stewen with driftwood you could easily spend time just meandering and fossicking. We’re heading to the lagoon though at the far end of the beach.
Talk about blessed this weekend – if we thought we struck it lucky with the reflections at Lake Matheson, I think these ones are even better.
What a gorgeous part of the country – yet another hidden gem. Ok, bit of a drive off the beaten track to get to it and then bit of a walk but wow, if you get your timing right with the right weather conditions it is just stunning.
Stephen takes a walk around the edge of the lagoon and the views we are afforded are just fantastic. There is a boardwalk for the continuation of the track if you want to walk out to the seal colony. We don’t have the time this trip unfortunately, as it is probably a good hour or so away yet – one of the drawbacks to winter is the shorter days and less daylight hours. We’ve still got to get ourselves back to the car after this – and we haven’t finished taking photos…….. The boardwalk does help give perspective with some of the photos and adds a nice contrast with the sky, mountains, bush and lagoon.
At the mouth of the lagoon, there is a rocky outcrop and you can see around to where the seal colony probably is. We can see why the track diverts from the beach and heads inland. The cliffs here are huge and you wouldn’t want to get caught on an incoming tide!
We are starting to lose the light as the sun goes down so high-tail it back along the beach to the car. The cloud formations in the sky though are amazing and in our last moments at the lagoon we are left with some fabulous cloud reflections.
The drive back to Franz Josef is pretty stunning too – with a full moon we get a wonderful photo opportunity of the moon high above Fox Glacier. Ah South Westland you are full of surprises and yet more wonderful West Coast scenery.
Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth. They enjoy living on the West Coast and getting out and exploring. Check out their other blog postings or activities page on their website for suggestions on things to see and do should you be looking at visiting the West Coast of the Southern Alps.