NZ Day 8 Journal (11/16/16): After an amazing stay in Wanaka, we headed to the wild west coast of South Island in search of rain forests and waterfalls. The drive over Haast Pass has several worthwhile stops, and once we reached the beach we were in for a surprise sighting…

Blue Pools Hanging Bridge Haast Pass

With the downpour, Blue Pools wasn’t as calm or clear as we had hoped, but it was still a fun stop.  Clarastill can’t get enough of these swinging bridges!

Blue Pools Hanging Bridge Haast Pass Rain

Our first stop was to Blue Pools, our first foray into the NZ rain forest. As advertised we were treated to rain! Clara didn’t seem to mind as she crosses one of the swinging bridges.

Fantail Falls Haast Pass

Fantail Falls, on the road over Haast Pass just past Makarora, is a fun stop to stretch the legs. The falls were raging today with all the rain!

Depot Creek Falls Haast Pass

Depot Creek Falls is an unsigned, semi-secret spot just upstream from the Depot Creek bridge. Well worth sleuthing it out if you are in the area!

Ship Creek Haast boardwalk

Once we made it to the coast, the rain stopped and our first experience of the New Zealand west coast was stunning! Clara had to get a run in along this amazing boardwalk just outside of Haast at Ship Creek.

Fiordland Crested Penguin Monro Beach

Further north up the west coast we hiked the 30 minutes out the Monro Beach Track in hopes of spotting the rare and extremely endangered Fiordland Crested Penguin. Clara and I walked up and down the beach with no luck, when all of the sudden we spotted a few heads in the surf! Over the next 20 minutes we were fortunate enough to see 5 of these elusive guys hop their way up into the rocks. The NZ DOC (Department of Conservation) has strict rules about staying well away from these guys, so we were only able to observe them from a distance. Can you spot our new little friend?