Hiking Copland Valley & Welcome Flat

It’s a great time to be on the South Island of New Zealand. The weather is getting warmer, the plains of Canterbury are (relatively) green and best of all, the hordes of travelers that turn the South Island’s main thoroughfares into parking lots for campervans in high summer haven’t arrived yet. As a traveler myself, I can’t really begrudge the hordes, but I can still be happy when I’m in places where they aren’t.

This past weekend, that place was the Copland Valley, where an 18-kilometer jaunt up the valley leads to the Welcome Flat hot springs. The West Coast is renowned for torrential rainstorms, even when the forecast calls for sun, so when I found myself lounging in a pool of 58°C water, running my fingers through soft volcanic mud and looking up at a starry sky — even though the forecast called for rain — well… I felt pretty damn lucky.

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