Showers, sandflies and (finally) sun!

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Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » West Coast » Fox Glacier
November 21st 2005
Published: November 26th 2005
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We awoke this morning to more rain showers, and sure enough when we showed up at The Helicopter Line they said there would be no heli-hikes until at least the afternoon. We had the option to take a half-day glacier walk but that didn’t sound like much fun in the rain. Instead, we drove down to Fox Glacier and had a lovely breakfast at Café Névé, then drove over to the Fox Glacier terminal to take a look. In the now-heavy rain, Ben and Gary took two umbrellas and set forth on the half-hour track. Rich and I waited in the car, and 10 minutes later a hailstorm hit. We imagined Ben and Gary were making a beeline for the car, and they were. They were soaked when they returned - it took Ben’s jeans all day to dry. Rich and I took a few pictures with the glacier in the background but didn’t bother walking all the way up to it.
The benefit of missing the heli-hike is that it allowed us to make a leisurely drive down to Wanaka. One memorable stop was Ship’s Cove, where we spent a good half-hour wandering on the beach and watching a surging
Mike's sun protectionMike's sun protectionMike's sun protection

Eastern Europe is far away, but the babushka is alive and well in New Zealand.
brown stream collide with the foamy surf. Here on the West Coast we started to see the same people over and over at the different stops - we’re all on the same circuit at this point. We took a quick lunch break at Haast, truly a “wide spot in the road”. One thing we noticed is that even the smallest towns are often more worldly/less bleak than their US counterparts. The bar/café at Haast had decent food and a fairly up-to-date décor.
We also found plenty of the sandflies that live on the West Coast. Ben and Gary had their turns getting bitten, but they discovered a magic lotion called "Soov" that helped alleviate the infernal itching.
Next it was over the Southern Alps once again, via the Haast Pass. We stopped at several short forest walks and viewed a number of gorgeous waterfalls. We had a fall of a different kind when I stepped backward off a small footbridge trying to take a picture. I only fell about 1 metre but I have a huge bruise on my butt as a souvenir!
As we made our way into Wanaka the clouds cleared somewhat and we were treated to stunning views of the snow-capped Southern Alps. We had a delicious dinner at the White House restaurant, enjoying the attention of the two house cats who wandered around while we ate. At the table next to us were the “identical bionic gay twins” - a gay couple probably in their 50s who chatted with us a bit. When they left, their table was taken by one of the couples who’d been on our dolphin swim in Kaikoura. It turned out they were newlyweds on a four-week tour around NZ. We compared travel notes for awhile before heading to the hotel. Tomorrow we’re going to the adventure capital - Queenstown - and aren’t sure which adventures we’re going to get up to.

Additional photos below
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Ben and Gary on a swingbridgeBen and Gary on a swingbridge
Ben and Gary on a swingbridge

On the way to see the Blue Pools.
Rainforest trackRainforest track
Rainforest track

We walked in many places today that looked like this.

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