Cold as Ice
Trip Start Jan 06, 2007
28Trip End Mar 03, 2007
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Today I realized why New Zealand has a reputation for being one of the most stunning countries to travel in. The drive on the stretch of road between Wanaka and Fox glacier was pretty bloody awesome. The drives just keep getting better.
Lake Hawea was undeniably gorgeous with the step mountains cascading into the huge blue expanse of the lake. The weather was again perfect with not a cloud in the sky and a gem to travel in.
We continued alongside the lush mountain side with a full dark green canopy before before stopping alongside another perfectly clear river for a few snapshots with the snow capped mountains acting as our focal point. Not too far away was a 10 min trek down more lush bush and over a rickety wire bridge to the 'Blue Pools', another on of those secluded little spots with the most amazing scenery and more insanely coloured water. This spot was really special. We spent our time here skimming the perfectly rounded stones across the the pools and running from the carnivorous sandflies that had monstrous chomps. We also visited a few waterfalls including 'Fantail' and 'Thunder Creek' Falls.
After this we winded up through and over the Hasst Pass and then down through to Hasst on the West Coast. We stepped on the cliffs above Knights Point for a surprising calm panoramic view over the Atlantic Ocean. Then we continued another 100km or so along very sparse rural countryside and finally after a rugged long days exhilarating driving to Fox Glacier to be meet by the welcoming party of sandflies.
The weather was damp and wet during our time at both glaciers. The next day we headed up in a break in the drizzle to Fox glacier. There has been a lot of news coverage of late of tourists ignoring the warning signs and venturing past the ropped off areas. Everyone does this as its simply not close enough to the glaciers and if the councils bloackade is a ridicuolus distance away. In saying that we did venture past the boundaries and only to come upto another set of warning signs and ropes. This spot is close enough to appreciate the large flow of constantly moving Ice. Its when tourists venture past here and right up to the terminal face that smacks of stupidity. Two sperate tourists were struck by falling ice in one week because they were stupid and went right up to the ice. Whilst we were at the glacier there was a huge cracking sound and a section of the terminal face came crashing down.
The glacier itself was inspiring for its huge size and there torrant of ice melt in the river, with large boulders of ice sprinkled amongst the deluge.
The next day we headed to Franz Josef Glacier. Driving on a rollercoaster of a road through the lush scenery. Unfortunately I departed with a load of washing still on the line , but after contemplating going back to get them I gave them up for lost.
The Franz Josef Glacier was at the end of a large ice carved valley with towering cliffs on either side. This magical place has been used in many movies incuding L.O.T.R. and the cliff valley is the result of the earlier advancement of the glacier. We got as close to the glacier as we could before the river sweeps around and cuts into steep rocky hill making too risky to go any further except by guided tour. The glaicers termianl face was quite dirty with gravel that has been churned up, but as the glacier vanishes into the mist at its peak there is a pure blue glow to the ice.