Published: March 24th 2010March 24th 2010
We left Nelson on the 20th, after managing to squeeze on to the bus. We were forwarded up the waiting list, so were very pleased! New driver and a new bus load of people who are really friendly. Stop off in Nelson's Lakes National Park and take photos of each other jumping off the jetty. the water was freezing!! good fun though. Only managing 4 jumps into the cold water, Suz returned to get dressed, finding that a duck had left a nice little present on her jeans! cheeky. It came off in the water though.
Later on we decided to do a bit of Quad Biking. Mark's idea. On arrival at the adventure Park near Westport, we were given helmets, glasses and overalls to protect our clothes from the dust. It took some getting used to but we all had a great time on the huge track. It was very bumpy, with tight corners and steep hills; much more exciting than we were expecting! After about 2 hours on our return to base, we had to duck under a fallen tree and went through a river- getting our feet a bit wet.
Soon we arrived in Westport and
headed to our hostel for the night- Bazil's! Where we were upgraded to a twin room for free= fantastic. After showering the dust off and getting organised for the next day, we all headed down to the beach for a bonfire. As we are now on the west coast, we had a great view of the sunset. As we settled around the fire on a few logs, a dog jumped out of the window of a nearby car and sprinted across the beach in pursuit of a bird (Kiwi-looking thing) and after catching it, managed to kill in with one shake. The owner was boo-ed by everyone as they took the dog away; this put a dampener on the mood until it was forgotten when the sun began setting.
The next day we drove down the west coast to Lake Mahinapua and stopped for a short walk to see the 'pancake rocks'. They were large stacks of rock, emerging out of the sea and forming a really interesting layered formation. It was raining heavily but we managed to get some good photos. We arrived at our hostel in the afternoon and got ready for a night of fancy dress.
Everyone was dressed as 'something beginning with...' the first letter of your first name. Mark was a mosquito and Suz was a sheep! It was good fun and everyone's costumes were really funny. There was a carton of 'Tropicana' walking around and a couple of clones of 'Amy winehouse'.
Mark also went for a swim in the freezing lake; it was absolutely deserted on this rainy day but really pretty and close to the hostel. It is a shame to accommodation wasn't that great, the rooms smelled of damp and the bed sank to floor when you sat on them. The hostel was run by an 84 year old man with a long beard who seemed to be doing really well from it. People on the kiwi experience bus have been going there for 16 years and they have photos of everyone who has been there.
We left the next day feeling a bit hungover and stopped off at a rural hunters museum and cafe for breakfast. It was a very strange place with animal skins on the benches and dead cockroaches on the sink- I think this was supposed to be humourous. The rest of the journey
was a bit cloudy so we couldn't really appreciate the scenery around us which was a shame.
We arrived in Franz Joseph, which is in the heart of the western rainforest, but situated amongst great mountain ranges, leading to some extraordinary scenary. Even so far south there are still some palm trees around! Feeling a bit groggy we went to bed early, in preparation for our hiking adventures the next day. We woke slightly later than the rest of the people in the room as they were going on an eight hour glacier hike, which for several reasons we did not fancy, and instead rose in our own time, again did some laundry, this time with far greater success and then planned our mini trip. We decided that we were going to walk the entire 5km to the glacier meeting point.
This journey took us along the river that runs under the glacier and as the weather had been and was wet, it was gushing, taking with it large clumps of ice. We eventually reached the glacier hiking start point, giving us lots of hiking options to get to different heights, allowing various views of the glacier. However
as the weather was not that great, we were advised that we shouldn't journey too high as the views would have been restricted. We therefore just travelled across the odd river bed that was covered in rocks that had once been taken down the river that once flowed there. When we reached the glacier face, which became wetter the closer we got, views were limited, but we did get some good views of the ice and some raging waterfalls. After our short stay we headed back, and after deciding not to wait for the bus, which did not turn up at all, we headed back along the road we had come, getting dryer the further we went. It was a good trip resulting in us being quite tired afterwards, but it was interesting to be in the micro climates and seeing the rapid changes in weather. We estimated that we walked around 12km or so in total.
We ended the day in the hostel jacuzzi, which was very pleasant, and helped to ease Suzanna's stiff legs. We head down the coast further and then travel inland, through the Haast Pass and on towards Lake Wanaka.
There are more photos below