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Published: October 20th 2008
Wednesday 8th October
It rained heavily from about 0400 and both of us had a fitful night. On our way and first stop was just up the road, Fox Glacier. A short walk got us to the observation area but when we saw others in the distance near the foot of the glacier we ducked under the marker tape and moved quickly along a rockfall area, keeping our eyes peeled. On our return this section was open so it couldn't have been too bad. After a bit of fun trying to get across streams of gushing cold water we managed to get very near the glacier. Rags was a little worried about ice-falls because of the rainy conditions, so Judy didn't get close enough to actually touch it. Looking at some posters later we could see that our concerns were real as huge pieces of ice do fall off unexpectedly. On the way back to the car we climbed up near some waterfalls overlooking the valley the glacier had carved. Here, it started hailing and we sheltered behind some rocks until it eased.
Turning off at Fox Glacier township we travelled 10 kms out to Mt Cook lookout, not
River at Fox Glacier
We had to find a way to cross this river to get to the terminal face of the Fox Glacier.
on Mt Cook but to see Mt Cook in the distance between other mountains. Not to be, cloud blocked out any chance of seeing it. We did stop at Lake Matheson on the way back, this deep lake reputed to be caused by the glacier a long time ago. The reflection of Mt Cook has been photographed in this lake, but not today, it was rough due to the wind and the mountain wasn't visible anyway. A walk through the rainforest was enjoyed instead. We got caught in more hail on the way back!
In Franz Josef township we treated ourselves to a lunch at the Speight's Landing Bar & Restaurant, Judy having a delicious venison pie, Rags a lamb casserole. Great meal.
From here it was on to the Franz Josef Glacier, the rain stopping as we got there We walked up to the lookout here, Rags had no intention of another 2 hour walk to and from the glacier wall. A good decision as on reaching the carpark the heavens opened, this time the hail being very heavy and we watched as it bounced off cars and the trees around us. Ice was all around us
and the people near the glacier would have had nowhere to shelter from the fall, it being an open area from the forrest edge.
Rags hadn't really kept an eye on the fuel consumption of the van, expecting to get to Greymouth when he last refueled. The headwind and mountains had really had an effect and the tank was less than a quarter full with well over 100kms to go. All the garages in the little towns had closed including one in Pukekura, but we had to stop there just to take a photo of the aptly named hotel, Pub Puke! It is rumoured that it sells possum pies but as it was closed we couldn't check up on this.The next town, Ross, a gold-mining town, had a bowser at its only shop, so Rags could now relax.
Just before Hokitika is Lake Mahinapua with a DOCs camp on the edge, so here we parked in a sheltered spot for the night.
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