The We(s)t Coast

Back online briefly – blogging is a bit tricky from campsites – not all of them have wireless broadband connections yet – particularly on the West Coast.

For those non-New Zealanders, ‘West Coast’ refers to the west coast of the South Island, which I have now driven the length of. Or as much as is accessible by road, anyway. Having done this, I can agree with the guidebooks on a couple of things.

1. It is stunningly beautiful.

2. It is wet.

The two are closely related. It is the proximity to both the towering Southern Alps and the sea that makes the coast wet. It’s quite simple physics; a good example of relief rainfall. The westerly wind blows over the Tasman sea, picking up lots of water vapour on the way. It arrives over the coast, and runs smack into the mountains. It has no-where to go but up. As it goes up it cools. Cold air can hold less water than warm air, so the water has to condense out, and it falls as rain. Lots and lots of it. Unfortunately the presence of the clouds tends to hide the mountains from view – so the best place to see them is generally from the other side, which, no surprises, tends to be very dry.

Driving over the Haast Pass is a great example – just in the space of a few kilometers the weather and vegatation turn from damp and prolific, to dry and scrubby. And, after several days of rain, the chance to dry out a bit was very welcome.

Wishing you all a Happy Christmas.

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