I drove along a stretch of the South Island’s West Coast recently… you hear the words “rugged” and “desolate” and “remote” used to describe it a lot, but I found it laidback and pleasant in a rural seaside kinda way.
I’ll remember it most, quite frankly, for the absolutely fantastic fish n chips I had at a little shop in Hokitika. The fish, which the woman told me was “shark,” was super fresh and had an almost fluffy texture and clean taste. I put “shark” in quotes because I’ve tried fish n chips here on the South Island three times, and every time I’m told I’m eating “shark” even though the texture and taste has differed. Hmmm.
Probably the biggest tourist attractions on the West Coast are its glaciers, the Fox and Franz Josef. Apparently nowhere else in the world at this latitude do glaciers come so close to the sea (still a few miles away, but hey, I’m just parroting what the guidebooks tell me). It is always cool to see a glacier, but you couldn’t walk on them like Kosmo and I did on the ones in Canada (well, you could, but you had to pay big bucks to join a guided tour) and, quite frankly, in terms of wow factor they paled in comparison to the ones I saw calving into the Beagle Channel in Chile. I’m just sayin’.
That said, however, I was able to add some excellent new peril signs to my collection.