This was my last night in Franz Josef. The next day I was planning to go to Queenstown via the Haast Pass. Unfortunately it started to rain that evening, and that was an under statement . In Wellington we do have very heavy rain but that tends to last less than an hour. Here in the West Coast it was pelting down and the sound was as loud as a jet taking off! It didn’t help having an iron roof at the motel. Apart from not being able to sleep I was thinking of flooding blocking the roads and whether I could get to Queenstown. I reassured myself that this is the West Coast and they are use to heavy rain and “she will be right”. The rain was continous all night and all morning. My favourite government website at the time -“Waka Kotahi” gives up to the hour transport conditions. The news was grim. There was flooding at Haast Pass and the road was blocked. There was no indication on how long it would take to open so I assumes it would be all day considering it was still raining heavily.. Honestly I cannot recall being in such heavy continuous rain before.
So what does an impatient photographer do. He just wants to shoot something (very american). He also hates waiting and queuing. Does he keep on driving south to wait near Haast . Does he find a pub in Franz and wait out the rain drinking water all day?
I rang my friend Ricky who I was meant to pick up at Queenstown airport and said he would have to make his own way to Glenochy where I booked 3 nights. Then I decided to make my way to Queenstown the long way around, back through Arthurs pass, down to Tekapo , traverse the Lindis Pass to get to Queenstown . I said I might have to stay a night half way as it was over 800Km!
It was constant rain all the way to Hokitika and through the Arthurs pass. The little Ford Fiesta handled the conditions very well with the Michelin tyres remaining grippy in all the puddles. I met a truck driver at the Arthurs pass toilet stop (I know what you are thinking…) and he said he hadn’t seen this much rain before. The braided river that runs along the pass (Waimakariri) looked more like a lake! The rain stopped on the Canterbury plains. Then I had to contend with a fallen tree on the highway and snow on the Lindis pass. But I made it to Glenorchy around 10 pm that day.
If I had a lesser car I probably would have stayed at Tekapo one night. But the Ford Fiesta is one hot hatch that chews up miles for breakfast. It handles well and has enough power to over take long trucks. It also helps to have only a few cars on the road and many breaks. The photos I managed to get were between Geraldine and Lake Tekapo. Worth the detour ? “Oath !! ”