West Coast and Hans Josef Glacier

Trip Start Feb 18, 2017
Trip End Mar 21, 2017

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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Wednesday, March 15, 2017

We left Queenstown and headed west, then north.

We start to see rolling hills covered with rows of grape vines. We stop to learn about the wines of the region and get a taste of the local Pinot Gris and Pinot noir, before 10:00 in the morning.

This region also has many cattle, sheep and deer farms. Deer are not native (remember, bats are the only native mammal in NZ) but were introduced and are farmed for their meat. You will find it on many restaurant menus.

This is a land of mountains and sea. We have a beautiful sunny day and get a glimpse of Mt Cook. At 12,300 feet, it is New Zealand highest mountain and usually shrouded in clouds. We stretch our legs on a hike to see the Hans Josef glacier, a temperate, marine glacier, which at one time ran to the Tasman Sea but is now 12 miles away.

In the old gold mining town of Ross, our trip leader, Charlie, arranges a Best on the Bus golf competition. Two holes are set up on a platform in the middle of a pond, each player is given 12 balls; closest to the hole wins. I was surprised when Roger, who hasn't played golf in over a year, pulled out a club and bought his bucket of balls. Surprise, surprise, he had the best ball. Players and spectators had fun and it was a break from the long bus ride.

We stayed in the small town of Fox that evening. Roger and I plus Charlie and bus driver, Paul, went for a nighttime walk (no worries of dangerous beast ) in the forest to see glow worms. Glow worms are the larvae stage of flying insect. The glow is produced by a reaction of a renal gland hormone and the oxygen in the air. The forest looks like tiny lights have been lit throughout the forest. Really cool. In clearings in the trees, the stars shine down so bright giving a beautiful light show.

We make our way to the coast and see turquoise blue waters with jagged rocks jutting toward the sky. There are are rocky beaches and sandy beaches but no bathers; the water is too cold and hazardous undertows are just off shore. The beauty of this coastline surpasses that of Australia's Great Ocean Road.
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