After the Blue Lagoon, the "Golden Circle" route is the…
This is a popular drive on the south island of New Zealand for a reason. Not only does Highway 6 here connect two must-see areas, but it also gives you a snapshot of many of the different kinds of natural landscapes in the area in just a few hours drive.
As we left Fox Glacier, it was cold and rainy. Plenty of these famous New Zealand one-way suspension bridges to cross. We even crossed one that was shared with trains and cars.
Still stormy as you cross into Westland National Park and a wide river. There’s an active salmon farm here that has a bustling cafe overlooking the pools. A bit strange to eat salmon while at the same time watching them being fished out of the ponds – but the food was delicious for being in the middle of nowhere. Rob had a smoked salmon plate and I had a bowl of chowder with a warm cheese scone.
Before you know it, you’re out of the storms and back on the sunny coast line at Bruce Bay.
The road turns inland again and gives you a gorgeous snowy view of Mt Cook – which I slept through, but looks like this! The bush gets wild along the road here.
You turn toward the coast again and the jungle abruptly ends with sheep farms running along the beach.
Haast Beach is a great place to stop for a snack and a walk before continuing on. The coastline here is absolutely empty for miles and miles. Nothing between you and Tasmania from there.
The road turns inland one final time and takes you through a series of mountain passes dotted with tourist sights marked on the side of the road. Rob and I stopped at Fantail Falls, which is right along the highway and surrounded by rock towers.
We then tried our chances at the Blue Pools. After the cloudy Blue Gorge in Hokitika, we didn’t have high hopes but this area did deliver on the crystal clear water. It’s just a 30 minute hike down to the river.
After this, the thick rain forest begins to clear out and the rocky “Lord of the Rings” style mountains slowly emerge.
Voila! You’re back in the lake region and headed back to the Remarkable’s ridge line and Queenstown. There are a few fruit farms along the road here but mostly miles of teal lakes and rocky steep mountains.