The West Coast, South Island, New Zealand
Handy Coast Hints
“Please remember that sandflies are an endangered species…every one you kill drives them closer to extinction…it is estimated that there are only 80 billion of the little critters remaining in the wild.”
“Don’t worry about the rain, it will wash off, doesn’t stain your clothes, is non-toxic and is great for your skin!”
“Driving along the coast road is best done in as lower gear as possible, slow right down, and take in the stunning scenery, stop often and enjoy the ride for the journey is what the Coast travel experience is all about.”
“Pull over onto the many overtaking bays along the way to let other vehicles pass is the correct driving etiquette (remember, not everyone is on holiday) and take extra care on the many one-way bridges that only allow passage of one vehicle at a time, if in doubt as to right of way, give way to all oncoming traffic, especially large trucks!“
“Coasters may initially seem gruff and unfriendly, but they’re all softies and will roll over and beg if you scratch their tummies…or buy them a beer!”
“If you can see the mountains, it’s going to rain…if you can’t see the mountains, it’s raining!”
“Rain is champagne for the forest.”
“Intermittent periods of intense beauty amid a deluge of immense beauty”
(West Coast weather report)
“More specific local detail about activities and attractions is available at the many information centres along the West Coast. Drop in and pick up the regional brochures and have a chat with the friendly and helpful i-site staff, who are full-bottle on local knowledge.”
“Karamea may be the end of the road for you, but it’s the start of the road for us!”
“I’ve travelled quite a lot--Swiss Alps, Pyrenees, New Guinea—but the West Coast tops the lot. It’s absolutely spectacular, we’ve had a wonderful holiday and we’re definitely coming back.”
(Ian Johnson, Willunga, South Australia)
“One of the top 10 coastal drives in the world.”
“Far South Westland is as remote from the settled centres of New Zealand as one can reach; its extent is vast enough to test all the powers of the body and the imagination. Set between sky-popping peaks of the alps and the vast emptiness of the western seas are forests and lakes, rivers and seashores, as beautiful, as mysterious, as rich in elemental spirit as any left on Earth.”
(West Coast poet Peter Hooper)
Historical West Coast Quotations:
“Nothing populates a waste, howling wilderness like gold.”
(James Buller on Hokitika)
“Rain continuing, dietary shorter, strength decreasing, spirits failing, prospects fearful.”
(West Coast Explorer Thomas Brunner 1847, just prior to deciding to eat his faithful dog “Rover” to stave of certain death from starvation. The desperate act earned him the nickname “Kai-Kuri,” “Dog-Eater.”)
“One long solitude, with a forbidding sky, frequent tempests and impenetrable forests.”
(French sailor Jules de Blosseville 1824)
“The last, loneliest, loveliest, exquisite apart…”
“Now that that is over, I wouldn’t tackle it unless someone gave me 5,000 quid.”
Australian pilot Guy Menzies after crash landing in a swamp at Hari Hari in 1931 to complete the first solo flight across the Tasman.
“Moral engines that were put on Earth to see that men didn’t lay about”
(Explorer Charles Douglas or sand flies and mosquitoes)
“Not being able to swim has saved my life many a time.”
(Charles Douglas on the dangers of river crossings) (The brave, the foolish and the drunk often drowned)
“Fools say that knowledge can only be acquired from books & men.”
(Charles Douglas, South Westland explorer, philosopher and naturalist.)
“For curiosity and impudence, the kea takes the record among all the feathered creation.”
(Charles Douglas, South Westland explorer, philosopher and ornithologist)
“A small grain of knowledge is cheaply purchased at the expense of a thousand ordinary lives.”
(Explorer and philosopher Charles Douglas reflecting on his unconventional life of adventure and battling the elements in the harsh south Westland environment.)
“As far as the eye could reach everywhere snow and ice and rock appeared around us, and in such gigantic proportions that I sometimes thought I was dreaming, and instead of being in New Zealand, I found myself in the Arctic or Antarctic mountain regions.’1
(Geologist Julius Haast, exploring the Mt Cook region in 1862, on the grandeur of its peaks and glaciers)
WEST COAST MEMORIES
When you're down upon the West Coast, where the surf comes rolling in,
You'll know you've met a Coaster, when you catch that cheeky grin.
A face that's wrinkled by the sun, that's weathered by the storm.
Those friendly eyes that look at you, and make you feel so warm.
When thunder talks and lightning walks, when rain tattoos the ground.
From hidden greenstone valleys, huge boulders tumble down.
Once more it's still, bushbirds trill, the sun breaks through the cloud.
In mossy dales like bridal veils, the mist floats like a shroud.
The blueness of the icy rivers as they hurtle to the sea.
The greenness of giant beech forests, that rise majestically.
The rosy glow of mountain snow, when the sun sinks in the west.
Bright starry nights without streetlights, the moon a silver crest.
Sun sequined waves caress the shore,
they polish shells and schist.
The creamy foam, the driftwood high,
the early morning mist.
Alas your sojourn's over, why do good times never last?
Bags are packed your hook is slung, you're heading for the Haast.
Think back on all those great days, the folks that you have met.
The inner peace, the scenery, these things you'll not forget.
Just one more thing I'd like to say, as to them I drink a toast.
Your life becomes much richer, when you've dallied on the Coast.
By Rod Morris
Compiled and written by Paul Murray