Published: April 26th 2009April 24th 2009
Our best sunset yet!
21st April 2009
We woke to mist blanketing our campsite, working its way through the gorge. It was a cold start but we were soon warm when, after a short drive onwards into the park, we stopped to climb the surprisingly steep Haast Pass Walkway. Only a 30 minute round trip but it hurt nonetheless! After taking in the panoramic views at the top we drove northwards continuing to stop intermittently to do the very short walks to Fantail Falls, Thunder Creek and Roaring Billy - all of which had rewarding views at the end of them. We were heading for Haast, which was a further hours journey north and had planned to spend a while there as it looked like a relatively large town. It wasn't. So after having a coffee break we drove a further two hours to Fox Glacier where we would be spending the night. This route took us along the west coast of the south island and allowed for some breath-taking views. On a whim we decided to have lunch overlooking Lake Peringa. Before heading into the township of Fox we turned off onto the Glacier road and parked up for the hour walk to the
Mount Aspiring NP
Morning mist in Mount Aspiring.
terminal face. This was our first close up sighting of a glacier and it was pretty impressive even though we were still some distance away from it (for our safety due to regular rock and ice falls.) Arriving in Fox we did a short recce of the Minnehaha walk which we planned to do later that evening as it was a hotspot for glowworms...we won't tell you how far we went in in the pitch black before turning back!
22nd April 2009
This morning we drove out to Lake Matheson - a short drive from Fox township - to see the unrivalled reflective views of the elusive (especially to us) Mount Cook and Mount Tasman. Having failed to get a good look at them last week it was great to have a beautiful, clear day. They formed a great back drop in which to have a morning coffee, chill out a bit and enjoy the sun. We then drove the 40 minutes to Fox's neighbour, Franz Josef. Again we did the one hour walk to view the terminal face where, like Fox, you only get a glimpse of what lay behind these imposing natural feats. They are very cool
On The Road
Driving between Haast and Fox Glacier.
because they are surrounded by rainforests and are only 200 metres above sea level - only Argentina has similarly low levelled Glaciers. We continued on into the town of Franz, set up camp for the night with great views of the mountains towering above us, and had a walk around town. Which took approximately 3 minutes. 'Town' is a generous word here! We finished the evening with a hot chocolate in front of a roaring fire in a log cabin. During the night Hayley had a face-off with two possums. You have never seen her run so quickly back to Neville!
23rd April 2009
Back in Fox we had booked to do a Glacier Walk once we arrived in Franz - being advised that it was the more adventurous glacier to tackle. By 10am we were dressed in a waterproof jacket, heavy boots, wooly socks and waterproof trousers and were re-tracing our steps from the day before up to the terminal wall. Yesterday we thought the glacier was impressive but as we made our way across to the viewing platform we were told that we were still 2.5km away from the base of the glacier. To reach the base
Drinking coffee in front of Mount Tasman and Mount Cook.
it took us an hour and a quarter, clambering across the rocky but mostly dry riverbed before we were able to put on our crampons - slightly more technical than the ones we had bought at Emei Shan - and climb on to the ice where we could really begin to appreciate the massive scale of the glacier. We split ourselves into four ability groups - we vainly put ourselves in the 'elite' group - and we met our guide who was from...Swindon - and Commonweal school! Yes, Hayley had been to school with our guide Greg and this led to some machismo proving on his part. He said that he didn't want anyone from Swindon going home disappointed so this led to the next 6 hours of hiking to include crawling through ice tunnels, climbing down into holes of blue ice, and squeezing through numerous crevasses. We were not the biggest people in our group and we had to struggle sideways to make our way along the route at times. Generally, it was absolutely amazing to be surrounded by these huge glass-like structures, but at times it became quite nerve-wracking, remembering you are walking on nothing but frozen water
Looking cool on the glacier.
and realising that one slipped step could involve you falling down a crevasse that could be up to 150m deep! It's hard to describe exactly what our day entailed up there on the ice but it was certainly not for the feint hearted and became quite challenging - and cold - at times. A great experience though and we would definitely do it again. Back on solid ground we decided that such exertion deserved a hearty meal. So after a long, hot shower we dragged out tired selves back out and went for the biggest, meatiest Lamb Shanks New Zealand had to offer. One pint of guiness and one glass of wine and we were done for!
24th April 2009
We had a long day's drive ahead of us today and so after breakfast we were straight on the road and carrying on north up the coastal road of route 6 heading for our first stop of the day, Hokitika. Hokitika is one of the bigger towns of the west coast and so we spent a bit of time wandering around, tasting the locally-made fudge and buying some locally-made jewellery. Back aboard the good ship Nev we headed on
towards Greymouth which although not a designated stop, this marked the start of one of the Lonely Planets top 10 road trips on the planet. This was a great example of how in the space of two hours you can pass between snow-capped mountains, rainforests, glaciers, sandy beaches and green rolling hills. It was fun! We then stopped at Punakaiki, home of the Pancake Rocks, and half way through the drive. The Pancake Rocks are limestone rock formations that look like, well, pancakes. Bizarre but quite cool all the same. On particularly rough sea days you also get to see the real strength of the ocean through the Blowholes. Alas, today the good weather was our enemy. Our final stop of the day was Carter's Beach, 10km west of Westport. We had now been driving most of the day but we were rewarded with our favourite sunset to date. Stood on a secluded beach we played in the sand, taking numerous photos and dodgy camcorder footage! Who knew a day driving could be such fun?
As our days are so full and due to Nevilles lack of internet access, we are struggling to keep up with our own adventures!
Edmund Hillary eat your heart out!
We will be online as often as we can so keep all your news coming in!
Love to all,
H and D
There are more photos below