Blogs from Franz Josef, South Island, New Zealand, Oceania


Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » Franz Josef November 21st 2022

It’s still raining & will be a few more days. This is a tropical rain so it pours hard, eases off a little and then pours hard again and is never ending! Our schedule was alternated slightly so that we drove to Lake Matheson and Fox Glacier this morning instead of tomorrow morning. It was a trip up and over the mountain with hair pin turns and winding roads. There was a sign for a Kiwi crossing which I missed photographing. It’s the first one I have seen. One of our group went for a walk yesterday on one of the trails and snapped a photo of an alpine deer - beautiful picture. Our driver took us down a little country road through pasture land that had herds of healthy beef cows and lots of local ... read more
River today
Mountains yesterday
Mountains today

Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » Franz Josef November 29th 2018

We spent the night in an eco lodge in Franz Josef. It was a very nice place. The rain forest was literally out on our back patio. Its weird. there are not very many animals out here. No large mammals, mostly small animals and a lot of birds. They did mess up the ecology, though. Kiwi birds are flightless and raise their young in burrows. The Europeans introduced rabbits for food and fur. Soon there were too many rabbits, so they introduced Skotes, which are like Ferrets, only a little smaller. The idea was that they would get the rabbits and control the population. But the Skotes figured out that the baby Kiwis were easier to catch than the rabbits, so they ate them almost to extinction. They are now an endangered species. So, the next ... read more
Giant bird
Stacy and I on the bus trip to Milford Sound
Mirror Lake

Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » Franz Josef October 19th 2018

I developed a slight obsession with glaciers after seeing them up close for the first time in Iceland, and was excited to visit some others. We got lucky with the weather on the first day and were able to do a helicopter tour to walk on the glaciers, which was beautiful...although we both said we were glad we'd done it, but probably wouldn't do it again. You walk across the ice and through lots of teeny tiny crevasses (and I'm using the term walk some points were too skinny/slippery to stand and we were pulling ourselves along by a rope above our heads) - lots of beautiful blue ice, but definitely not for anyone slightly claustrophobic.... read more
Road to Franz Josef
Road to Franz Josef
Road to Franz Josef

Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » Franz Josef June 11th 2018

Arriving in the torrential rain, Franz Joseph was still every bit as beautiful as we remembered. The one 'main' street - consisting of a couple of bars/restaurants, a small grocery store, a gift shop and many an flight company offering scenic tours and heli hiking - is accompanied by a smaller second offering just behind it with mainly campsites nestled in the bush. Looking up that main street, when the views are clear, the towering snow capped peaks steal your attention instantly. Franz Joseph exists because of its glacier, snaking down the valley and carving our the mountain side to the village. Our purpose then was to see this mighty, living block of ice once more. Taking the moraine trail, just a short walk through more bush before opening up to the vast flat gravelly valley ... read more
Franz Joseph Glacier Trail
Franz Joseph Glacier Trail
Franz Joseph Glacier

Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » Franz Josef March 28th 2018

Not a great start to the day. The bed is ridiculously uncomfortable so I have not slept well and I wake to find my children have been fighting. Quite a feat as they are 7000 miles apart. However, we can hear from the buzzing of helicopters overhead, that the weather has lifted. Helicopter is the only way to access the glaciers. We opt instead for a 90 minute walk up the retreating glacial bed to the bottom of Franz Josef Glacier. It’s a pretty walk alongside and across the river. Information panels explain how the vegetation changes the closer you get to the retreating glacier. In the afternoon we return to the Fox Glacier lookout. From the same spot we sat at yesterday, wondering which way was up, you do indeed get a terrific view of ... read more
Franz Josef Glacier
Franz Josef Glacier
Welcome to Franz Josef

Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » Franz Josef March 27th 2018

Day 40 – half way through our trip. Today we have a 180 mile drive north to Franz Josef Glacier. It didn’t sound far when we planned it, but NZ roads are narrow and windy with few passing places. Add in the bus loads of Chinese tourists and the RVs full of British pensioners and basically 180 miles means driving all day. First I go for a jog round Lake Wanaka. I plan to run to Wanaka’s top attraction; #ThatWanakaTree – it’s a tree growing in the middle of the lake. I wonder if I will be able to locate a lone tree in the dawn half-light but I needn’t have worried, it’s easy to spot the ring of photographers on the bank. The wind blowing across the lake is intense. A century ago some mad ... read more
Wanaka sunrise
Wanaka timeline

Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » Franz Josef March 17th 2018

Day 20: Hokotika to Franz Joseph, 140km. The Donkey is doing a body check. Day 20 was going to be a big day for the Donkey as he had learned that 140km on a fully laden mountain bike, with big fat tires (sorry Spot, but your tires are fat) is very different from doing the same distance on a lightweight road bike with nice slim wheels which hardly touch the road. So the Donkey set of early, at the crack of dawn. For the final part of the Wilderness Trail, the 35km section from Hokitika till Ross, he was accompanied by Butterfly, Pussy Cat and his Gazelle. The sun came out and winked at the Donkey, all good for today and there was no wind in sight. They talked so much; especially Butterfly and Gazelle that ... read more
A stunning day
Hokitika to Ross
Lake Ianthe

Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » Franz Josef January 22nd 2018

Akaora to Franz Joseph via Arthurs Pass in torrential rain I think the place between Arthurs Pass and Franz Joseph may well be the most beautiful scenery ever - sadly the rain only allowed us to glimpse the tiniest part of it. I do have to say it is spectacular to drive along roads that have waterfalls crashing down onto them. Even if the 100 to 200 foot drops off the side of the road in torrential rain was terrifying. We also drove through clouds which was both weird and cool. I will have to go back to see how stunning this scenery really is because the sneak previews were stunning. Franz Joseph to Queenstown via Wanaka Another day of just driving through amazing county-side with no time to stop and enjoy it. I will be ... read more
Franz Joseph
veiw from the bed

Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » Franz Josef December 18th 2017

Soooo... this is a blog entry about my stay in the Okarito lagoon. 3 days. An amazing experience. And still, I probably wouldn't do it again. Liz Slooten from the University of Otago, where I was volunteering a few month before, asked me if I could volunteer for the Department of Conservation. She only told me that kt was about watching dolphins in a lagoon on the West Coast and that I would be staying on a camp with the other volunteers and that it was very nice. I accepted and drove to Okarito the day my mother left. I arrived pretty late in the evening and got to sleep at the old schoolhouse. In the morning at 8 I met Iain, the responsible of the volunteer project in Okarito. He explained that the dolphins were ... read more
the boat
the lagoon and mt. Cook in the background
the radio, only way of communication

Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » Franz Josef June 21st 2017

September 8, 2010Our arrival at Auckland Airport was smooth; we had slept most of the flight and woke ready to tackle wild New Zealand! I was apprehensive as we approached the baggage scanners. No, I was not smuggling contraband, only 10 jars of calamondin jelly that Bob had insisted I bring along to share with the locals. When the agent said: "Ma'am, I notice you are carrying some glass jars. They don’t contain honey, do they?" I answered, “No, only marmalade to share with our hosts” and he was satisfied! We soon learned that NZ is truly an agricultural country and that Kiwis (yes, that’s what they like to be called) go to great lengths to protect that supporter of ... read more

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