From Punakaiki to Franz Josef with Jayride
Packing up the Ace rental in Punakaiki, the Challenge headed south down the West Coast. Tomás was once again along for the ride. The final passenger joining us for the leg was Trista, who we’d gotten to know at the Pancake Rocks, and had enough fun that she’d decided to join us traveling south into glacier country.
Two kilometres before Punakaiki the Ace’s petrol light came on. In a shocking oversight, we’d forgotten to fill up with petrol in Westport. It’s 47 kilometres from Punakaiki to the nearest petrol station at Greymouth. Although the roads are straight there are frequent hills; if Ace was to run out of petrol on the wrong stretch there would be no shoulder on which to pull over.
Those 49 kilometres were full of nervous jokes and the most conscious fuel-saving driving possible.
We rode to Greymouth with windows up and aircon off, not a problem on the West Coast with rain coming down in sheets. We drove more conservatively, with an eye on the rev-counter; slower driving meant plenty of people overtaking us, but we laughed it off as it gave us more time to appreciate the best of the West Coast views. Even the view of an old abandoned gas station was worth a chuckle.
Finally, we took a tip from the hypermilers, a group of people who aim to drive with the highest miles-per-gallon (mpg). By driving behind a larger vehicle, a truck or camper, your own vehicle will encounter less wind resistance and need less gas. If you’re skeptical, try it (watching your following distance!), and you’ll find it really works. Check out the full hypermiler petrol-saving tips list here on treehugger.
With these methods and plenty of laughs about hitchhiking for gas in the rain, Jayride made it safely to Greymouth. Having the extra weight of passengers and bags in the car proved to be no problem with good driving; our Ace rental performing brilliantly. We filled up and were able to continue south to glacier country without a problem.
Franz Josef town is little more than two roads but has a full set of shops, accommodation and petrol. Fox Glacier town is much smaller. Although is has one backpacker, it has few other facilities. If you decide to stay at Fox Glacier be sure to stock up on petrol and provisions before you leave Franz.
At Franz Josef the Jayride team will spend the last nights of the challenge. On the 5th we finish the Jayride Rideshare Challenge with the final carpool to Queenstown. In doing we will have proven that it is possible to share any trip, reducing your environmental impact and travel expenses per-capita. Keep watching the Challenge at news.jayride.co.nz.