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Published: December 15th 2018
After a bus journey from Nelson to Franz Josef, during which we stopped at Punakaiki to see the “Pancake Rocks” (heavily eroded limestones) and the blow holes, we arrived at our hostel, Chateau, in the late afternoon. After checking in, we went for a lovely stroll in a beautiful forest on Terrace Walk. The walk included climbing above some dead trees that were blocking the path which made it fun!
Franz Josef is one of the three glaciers at sea level in the world - Fox Glacier, near Franz Josef, is another one. You can only get on the glacier by helicopter and we chose not to. Instead, on the next day, we took a shuttle to the glacier main carpark and walked to Robert’s Point, the viewpoint nearest to the glacier. It was supposed to take about 5 and a half hours but it took us about 7! The walk was really nice so we stopped a lot to take pictures and videos while we were crossing streams and rope bridges in the forest. It was very slippery so I went pretty slowly on the way back but it didn’t prevent me from slipping - and Shaun slipped while turning
around to see what was happening when I screamed! Luckily he didn’t hurt himself and I only scraped my elbow and knee (although I was disappointed I ripped the only T-shirt I had actually bought and not gotten from the hostels’ free stuff boxes!). The view of the glacier was quite underwhelming - it looked like it had seen better days (which is actually the case considering all glaciers are receding) and we weren’t too impressed. We managed to get the shuttle back at 7pm from Alex Knob carpark and enjoyed a nice rest in the hostel!
The day after, we made our way to Wanaka with the Intercity bus. Wanaka was a very small town, built between the lake and the beautiful hills surrounding it. The view from our YHA hostel was amazing. We sat with a girl met in our dormitory and shared a bottle of wine while looking at the beautiful view of the lake and the hills. On the next day, we went for a walk around the lake to see the Wanaka Tree, a lonely tree in the lake that became famous on Instagram. It has no real history nor anything but many people take
pictures and selfies there to add to their social media.
We had a burrito for lunch and we sat with two German guys including one who was working for the Department of Conservation of New Zealand. After an interesting conversation, we left to take our bus to Queenstown. Once in Queenstown, our American friend Julian (the other American, Matt, had gone home) was waiting for us to take us to Te Anau.
The drive was very nice and we arrived in the evening. We had a nice meal at the pub and left early on the next day to drive the Milford Sound. We stopped at a few points including Mirror Lakes. It was a nice spot but considering all the other beautiful places, we didn’t really understand how this lake became a tourist attraction. We also stopped to see The Chasm, an impressive waterfall. We then hiked to the Key Summit, which took about three hours, but it was raining and there were so many low hanging clouds that we couldn’t see anything but mist. The views on Milford Sound and the towering Mitre Peak are supposed to be wonderful so I was pretty disappointed we didn’t get to
see anything. We had lunch in the car (it was too wet outside!) and went for another quick walk to a view point not far from the Harbour. At 4.15, after drinking a beer in front of the Harbour, we got on our boat for a cruise on Milford Sound. Milford Sound is a fjord known for its beauty - even in a country full of amazing landscapes; and for its rainforests and waterfalls. It was still raining and very cloudy but it meant that all the waterfalls were a lot more impressive. The views were spectacular and we had a really good time. On our way back, we stopped at a viewpoint and Julian and Shaun decided to go for a walk in spite of a warning sign. They walked on a pretty dangerous path made of ice (I didn’t know that at the time!!) and snow and had lots of fun while I stayed in the car - where I got very cold. I was worried something had happened but they came back an hour later and we continued our journey back to our accommodation in Te Anau, called Te Anau Lakeview Kiwi Holiday park. We cooked a quick dinner and went to bed. On the next day, we were leaving early with Julian who was driving to Christchurch. We stopped in Queenstown, where we left him after eating a burger in the famous Fergburger - allegedly the best burger in New Zealand. It wasn’t even 11 o’clock and there was already a queue!
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