Rai Valley to Greymouth and onto the Franz Josef Glacier

Published: March 18th 2017
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Leaving Mount Richmond Estates, the road passes deer farms, as venison is a common item on the menu. What happens in a rainforest.... it rains.... a lot. The thick dense forest smells marellously earthy.
Pancake Rocks in Punakaiki reveal outstanding limestone formations that look like stacks of pancakes created 35 million years ago. This is a tourist haven filled with buses and campers. Greymouth provides rest for the evening. This is a small mining town with several lovely historical homes. NZ is a country full of one lane bridges. Some are still used for rail, as well as cars.
On down the highway, the passage changes constantly from different rainforests to flat plains adjacent to the sea. Getting close to Franz Josef, the rivers are a beautiful aquamarine color due to the melting of the glaciers.
Franz Josef was named by an Austrian explorer after an Austrian emperor in 1865. This tiny town has a population of 444, and is somewhat like our Canadian Banff. With the glacier being the focal point, there are seven helicopter tour companies in operation.
We choose instead to hike the 1 ½ hour valley walk which leads to the face of the glacer. Stunning waterfalls create vistas along the way.
Afterwards, going for a beer, we meet a waitress from Salta, Argentina. Turns out she knows our friends Herbert and Carolina who had moved from Antofagasta, Chile, to Salta, Argentina years ago!
The world is getting smaller.

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19th March 2017

Look soooooooooo amazing!! Glad to see they are feeding you well and that the beer still flows there!! Your photos are wonderful! Thanks for the great commentary, too

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