A CamperMate Cruise to the West Coast (South Island, New Zealand)
With all the stress of releasing a brand new version of the CamperMate app, it was time to take a weekend break and head away for a bit of quiet time, in one of the few areas of New Zealand without cell phone reception..Haast, on the wild West Coast! I can completely understand if this doesn't sound like your ideal break but after spending so much time connected by way of smartphone, I could think of nothing better than a leisurely road trip, followed by a spot of fishing. Leaving Christchurch on Friday lunchtime, there was a sense of urgency in the air. Like myself, people were also escaping the city for a longer than normal weekend which resulted in a bit more care needed on the road. It was a hot day with an army of Cicadas lining State Highway 1. After an hour or so, I realised this was a great opportunity to hunt out some more points of interest, as I had not done this journey for some time. I found a few really cool water sources that I hadn't found yet or hadn't been added by people through the app. This publicly accessible tap (-44.0611003340315, 170.5025768280029) provides clean tap water at a rest area, there are a couple of picnic tables here also, so this can be a great way to restock your water bottles on a hot day.
After taking far longer than first anticipated collecting more POI's, I arrived in Queenstown late in the evening and met up with my fellow travellers/fishermen where we prepared for leaving early the next morning, bound for Jacksons Bay, 25 minutes drive south of Haast. The drive to Haast via Wanaka is one of my favourites, as you find yourself driving over the Crown Range Past the beautiful Lake Hawea (this photo was taken with my iPhone5 and a filter added on Instagram) but 'in the flesh' it looks amazing still! To finally reach Haast where as mentioned earlier, cell phone coverage on any of the networks was non-existent! A relief and panic set over me at the same time, however it was now time to sit back and enjoy the time here (once mosquito repelant had been caked on). We went and had a look at the beach to see what the conditions were like for the fishing trip the next day, luckily it looked amazing! With a little sleep, we woke and started the 25 minute trip South to Jacksons Bay at 6am where were were greeted at the Jacksons bay wharf by bigger and hungrier mosquitoes. The public toilet there was an adventure with so many mosquitoes trying to find a piece of skin to get into! It was a case of getting onto the boat and out to sea as quickly as possible to avoid these swarming gangs. And so the trip began! We were heading out about 13kms and to a depth of 350 metres to fish for Bass, Groper (aka Hapuka) and we had heard that the Tuna were running which they do for about 3 months a year along this coast, but as with fishing there were no guarantees. The conditions were looking great though, so we were hopeful! The conditions were uncommon for this stretch of coastline which normally consists of heavy seas, it was so flat in in fact that the skipper hadn't experienced anything like this in the last few years. It took some time to reach the sweet spots where we put our rods out and managed to catch a few Tuna, Bluenose a big Blue Cod and a couple of Bass, a cousin to the Groper. One of the guys caught this monstrous 35 KG fish from a depth of 375 metres, can you imagine hauling this up from that depth? Wow! If you get the chance I would strongly recommend taking a trip to Haast and Jacksons Bay (if you want to go a little further), you'll find lots of other campervans along this stretch of coastline. Bring plenty of mosquito repelant though and prepare for no cell phone coverage! We stayed at Wilderness Accommodation which had clean and tidy facilities at a great price, and showers that were a great temperature also.