Ron Laughlin             The Ultimate New Zealand Travel Guide
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      Trail of Discovery!
with Ron Laughlin - the Guru of NZ Travel
First I left Queenstown on route 6 and head out to the West Coast of the South Island. A 317km drive (Google map)of four hours minus the stopping and you will stop for photos a lot....​ It is mostly a World Heritage area and provides one of the top drives in New Zealand.
​To me it is the ultimate drive from the beauty of the small gold mining town of Arrowtown through the Kawarau Gorge packed with the local vineyards then on to Wanaka 
that offers enough to stop for the rest of the day but we are running short of time so must hurry on.
If you did stop it is the place to visit Puzzling World, the Warbirds Museum and a ton of other exciting attractions not to mention the activities...........sorry must move on............ ​ 
The road takes you between Lake Hawea and then Lake Wanaka where we stopped at the DoC camp on Lake Wanaka for a quick lunch before we dropped down into the Makarora River valley. Be sure to fuel up as this is a long drive and the last place will be here in the community of Makarora. By the way they have a great holiday park here with a cafe, bar and food supplies. I like to stay here. Several activities and walks to enjoy also. As you can see this area could easily take a week if you had time to stop and enjoy all it has to offer but, as most folks, we must hurry on and just enjoy the top scenic wonders only.....awesome is a word over used but it sure fits in this area......
Anyhow we move on from Makarora into the Mount Aspiring National Park where the road climbs to the top where we cross the Southern Alps. Just a gradual height and then you are over and on the way to the West Coast. As you drive through the heavily wooded area with a scattering of waterfalls and the river plummeting down to the valley floor you will know what I mean by awesome (have to find a new word some day). 
Two places you must stop the first being what is called the Gates of Haast. Stop after you cross the bridge so you can walk down to the river and get the best photos​. You will see the run-away lane for those who might have a problem just before you get there...........Couldn't imagine brake failure here......I shudder to think of it........
Anyhow just a short distance past the Gates of Haast on the left there is a place to pull over and a ten minute walk to Thunder Falls................a very large and impressive waterfall that runs all the time. I believe it could supply power for a small community if harnessed but there is no one living anywhere close in this area.........
We now cruise on through the Haast River Valley​​ where again the Dept of Conservation have provided another place to stop and park overnight if you want to or just take a break.
On along the Haast River valley until you reach the settlement of Haast and a scattering of accommodations and food services. There is a side road to the left that takes one out to Jackson Bay home to hardy fishermen and their families. Along this road and this part of the world is where whitebait fishing is king. The rivers leading into the Tasman Sea provide a quality amount of this New Zealand delicacy that sells for more than gold per kilo and is the source of many of the local resident's income. Have to try a whitebait sandwich if you can find one offered locally when you pass through. ​
Now we cross the Haast River turning north on the long one-way bridge (by the way there are many of these on this stretch of roads in the south. Pay attention to the signs when you get to one. A white arrow on​ the left means you have right away, red means stop for the other side. Thankfully there isn't much traffic even at the busiest times plus most people are very polite in this part of the world.........
North now on our trip for the first time and means we are sadly winding up our Jucy adventure in a couple of days but meanwhile we are packing in the scenic overload..............​
​We have reached the West Coast and are cruising through the lower rain forest touching base with the Tasman Sea here and there plus driving along beautiful lakes I know are full of trout. 
We stop to see the thar at the town of two people Pukekura and pass through a couple of small towns before finally reaching the first of the large glaciers in what is known as Glacier Country - Fox Glacier.
Rachel ​​is anxious to take the walk to the Fox glacier so I drive to the easy access area and off she goes. I have been there many times and just take a short walk around the river basin to stretch my legs before we push on later.
We have reservations at the Fox Glacier Top Ten​ tonight and I know a very good restaurant in town, the Plateau, I want to go to.
So after Rachel did her thing we went to our accommodations​ and off to dinner. Tomorrow was to be a very early start as we were off the Lake Matheson just down the road but in order to see it at its best reflection of the mountains around it an early start was required......................and we did......................
We had accomplished the "big drive" and Rachel was impressed and I still found, even after all these years, one of the best scenic drives in New Zealand.......​

​​​​here are a few of the hundreds of photos we took today...........


the magical drive from Queenstown to Fox Glacier and the West Coast of the South Island.......

​check the article I wrote on this drive......​
One way bridge over the Haast River
Gates of Haast
Knights Point
          run-away ramp
Rain forest walk to
​Thunder Falls.
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