Water, water everywhere…
On a wettish day we cruised toward the West Coast. As we climbed into the Alps and approached Haast Pass, the rain became so heavy that for quite a long distance our wipers couldn’t keep up with the downpour. Welcome to the legendary West Coast weather!
Near the pass is a place (the “Gates of Haast” where the road crosses the Haast River and it is possible to climb down beneath the bridge and view the raging torrent close-up. The sight and sound of roaring foaming brown masses of water was absolutely amazing and unlike anything I had ever seen. The change from the crispy dryness of Otago only a short distance to the east, to this rainforest, was amazing. The area receives 3-4 m (10-13 ft) of rain per year.
The rain continued unabated, persuading us to change our overnight plans from tenting to staying in a cabin at a holiday park. This turned out to be wise, as the rain hardly stopped for four days.
(photo credits to Eilidh)
We still had a jolly time. Drove south on the Jackson River Road, to the very end of the public road, overlooking the Cascade River. Water poured off of the hillsides; ferns and moss covered everything. In places the engorged river was encroaching on the road. We saw no other cars for several hours. Walking in the warm rain was great.
Back in the early days a Charlie Douglas pioneered the area, exploring it extensively. He was apparently quite a character. I suppose a bit of wild abandon and a good sense of humor are mandatory when living in these conditions!