The other end
13th April ’12 Wanaka to Fox Glacier
A long day’s travelling again today – they feel that way as all the roads are twisty and turny, but again through immense scenery and with lots of photo stops at viewpoints and for a short walk to a nice waterfall. Howard had me all excited at the lunch stop prospect as he found a place called Jackson Bay which was according to the map slightly off our route but which the guide book reckoned was where you could get the best, freshest fish and chips ever along with more stunning views. However when we reached the turn off and discovered it was going to be a 50 mile detour we reckoned it wasn’t worth it and so we stopped instead back at Haast at their café which boasted a similar thing (minus the views).
What a let down! The price was ok but the fish closely resembled a fish portion from Iceland and the chips were those skinny little fries that often come in microwaveable boxes, not quite the Fish and Chups (NZ pronouciation) we had expected.
Onwards ever onwards and we arrived in a grey, drizzly Fox Glacier ‘town’
The other end
and found our hostel – Ivory Towers, it was a rambling house with collections of rooms dotted about and an owner who appeared to just not like people! At first we didn’t realise she was the owner but thought she was just a guest who didn’t want to make eye contact or speak to anyone as she blanked us and scuttled past (a young lass had checked us in) but when we were coming back in and had to squeeze past the coach trip of yet more young Americans there leader was introducing her to them! How bizarre, I wonder if turning her home into a hostel was the only way she could keep it?
Anyway we decided to go and do the 1 hour walk up to the Terminal Face of the glacier and by the time we parked the sky was looking even darker and greyer so we grabbed the raincoats (which haven’t seen any action since Sappa in Vietnam and smelt like it too!) and set off.
It was a very impressive sight, a huge wall of bluey white ice (like a Fox’s Glacier Mint no less) with a kind of tunnelled out bit but
by the time we got half way there it started raining. We pressed on and crossed various little streams and went up and down hillocks getting wetter and wetter. When we arrived at the viewing point you could see the glacier ok but the mountains were all covered in mist and it wasn’t the kind of weather you want to hang around in. By the time we got back to the car I was soaked! The rain had gone straight through my raincoat and I couldn’t see out of my glasses and small rivers were running down my face from my hair.
Back at Ivory Towers we attempted to dry everything out but the heater in the room kept making very strange noises and cutting out and looking like it wanted to spontaneously combust so we had to unplug it.
We ventured into the kitchen to make our tea of savoury rice and corn beef, luckily all the American kids clearly didn’t believe in cooking for themselves and weren’t in the kitchen, preferring instead to ‘go out and find liquor’. So there was only us, 4 young people making a huge pan of vegetables (now what’s that all
about??) and a young Japanese boy who was skipping around making fairy cakes, he even put them in the oven and then opened the door to take a photo of them!! An entertaining tea time.
14th April ’12 Fox Glacier to Franz Josef Glacier
Only just up the road to travel today so we went back to the fox Glacier first to take some pictures in the sunshine! As we were leaving we collected a hitch hiker who this time was from Sweden and studying psychiatric nursing. He was doing his final placement for 10 weeks in Christchurch – bit different from English placements eh Holly?! And had 10 days holiday over Easter so was out and about doing a bit of sightseeing in the meantime. For some reason he wasn’t going to see the glacier which seemed a bit odd so we dropped him off when we reached the FJ turnoff and wished him well.
The walk up to the glacier terminal face this time was about 1 ½ hours but thankfully the skies were blue and sunny. All along the route there were waterfalls cascading down the valley sides and the path criss crossed glacial
melt water streams.
The glacier itself I felt wasn’t as impressive as the Fox Glacier but this may have been partly due to the fact that you couldn’t get as close and the viewpoint at the end did not have as good a direct view of it. The glacier also appeared to have many more crevasses in it. Still the setting was great with Mt. Cook and Mt. Tasman in the back ground and walking through valley which the glacier had once covered was quite awe inspiring and kept making me remember o’level geography lessons!
We did another shorter walk up to Peter’s Pond, which was a glacial lake which had when it was discovered reflected the glacier but now reflected mountain peaks instead.
Rather than go straight to the hostel we drove further up the road to Okarito, a tiny settlement on the coast. It’s claim to fame being the author Kerri Hulme lives here and her book The Bone People (which I believe I read many years ago) is set in this area.
We walked through the sand dunes down onto a virtually deserted wild and rugged beach. The waves were high and pounding
second day's first glimpse - what a difference a day makes!
against the shore and we sat on an old driftwood tree trunk and just gazed at it, the sea was truly magnificent. Our reverie was soon broken though as we were bitten by sand flies, we ended up flapping our arms around and slapping at the little buggers constantly which kind of spoiled the mood and sent us back to the car.
So tonight we are staying at Chateau Franz but don’t worry we haven’t gone up market it’s still a hostel. This time run by really friendly jolly people one of whom has heard of Middlesbrough!
Arrrrgggghhhhhhhhhhhh sand flies! I now have big red swollen lumps on my hands and arms and they itch so bad!
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