Fox Glacier and Franz Joseph – Wednesday 15th February 2012


As the curtain opens, we draw a sigh of relief that the sun is shining and there are patches of blue sky. Fox Glacier looks bluer today. We are given heavy hobnailed boots, a raincoat for John and a backpack for me and we dismount the coach at the foot of the glacial valley.

This, of course is the path we have trodden before (on Monday) but at its end, we climb stone stairs and begin our ascent onto the glacier itself.

It is blackened with the chips of stone, which it has been carrying and grinding for years, but beneath its surface, shines a blue. Fox Glacier guides spend their day with an ice pick cutting stairs in the ice for half day trippers.

We pick up a pole, strap on our crampons, before setting foot onto the ice itself.

20120219-180913.jpg
In places it gushes with melt water, it’s surface irregular, pitted with rocks and stones ground from the mountain.

20120219-181104.jpg
The water is pure enough to drink freely. The ice has been sculpted into beautiful ice caves and caverns. Some big enough for us to climb into, others simply beautiful in that special ice blue.

20120219-181309.jpg

20120219-181412.jpg

20120219-181435.jpg
In places large crevasses open, or pools of water lie by our feet. I take the opportunity to push my pole down one and am horrified to see it disappear by nearly a meter and still no resistance. I pull itback hastily!
Maybe, we don’t get far in one half day treck, and it was not actually too taxing physically, but I am so glad we did this.

In the afternoon, we drove to Franz Joseph to see their glacier. It is much further from the car park, much steeper to access and climbs more steeply. And it was raining!

We had left Fox in glorious sunshine, here it poured with rain. I am keen to keep John dry as he is still coughing quite a bit, we take a short walk up a hill to a viewpoint and then drive into town, but I am not excited by it, so we drive back home. As we enter our own valley, the sun shines again, so we walk down to Lake Matheson and back to a lovely restaurant, where they serve great cappachinos. The scenery is beautiful. We stay on for a beer, watching the sun and clouds move gracefully over the mountains.

20120219-182209.jpg

20120219-182243.jpg

20120219-182306.jpg
Back at the motel, we see a rainbow from the window. It’s been a wonderful day!

Driftwood art and glacier country – Monday 13th February 2012


We need to do a little shopping today. I’ve now run out of memory space and need new cards. I’ve filled 4gb so far, whilst John’s camara used far bigger 8 gb at a time cards!
We visit the Warehouse and buy two new cards, but inevitably we find something else that we’ve been looking for…a small wetsuit for our grandson. He is only 17 months old and we wilL not see him for another 2 months so it feels impossible to guess what size, except there is only one size for people as small as him,so we buy it!
We also go to the supermarket to stock up on food.
At Honitika, where we stop for coffee a large clock tower greets us in the middle of the road. It’s clearly a jade place with factory shops at several corners, but the impressive area is the beach.

20120216-164726.jpg
A vast quantity of driftwood piles up on the sand, and this has been used for one of the best social art projects I’ve ever seen in a community. Take a look!

20120216-164927.jpg

20120216-164952.jpg

20120216-165015.jpg

20120216-165042.jpg
Brilliant eh?

As we approach Franz Joseph we stop at a beautiful ice blue river, made even more stunning by the contrasting orange crocosmia flowers, I realize I got them out of focus but I was leaning was below road height to get this!

20120216-165254.jpg
The motel at Fox Glacier is surrounded by small heliports but the room is clean and reasonably modern, I just wish they would stop using these 1980s bedspreads which we first saw back in the Blue Mountains YHA. Oh yes we also bought them in 1980 but it was trendy then!
We cannot resist a quick walk to see the glacier. The glacial valley is ridiculously steep and massive. It made the people like ants by comparison. I had imagined the glacier itself would slope gradually down to the river but it is a think vertical wall with huge boulders of ice crashed from it as it melts. Impressive!

20120216-165656.jpg

20120216-165726.jpg

20120216-165805.jpg
There ARE people to the right of the valley floor in the second from last photo. They must look like tiny stones! It’s that big!!