: Hokitika -> Fox Glacier
The area that we were going travel for the next couple of days will be known as Te Wahipounamu
, one of UNESCO World Heritage Site which comprised of few national parks - Westland (Fox Glacier town), Mt Aspiring (nearest towns were Wanaka, Queenstown, Te Anau), Fiorland (Milford Sound), and Aoraki/Mt Cook.
The plan for the day was to drive to Fox Glacier for the helicopter glacier hike which we have booked earlier. However, sensing that it will be quite hectic and rush, we decided to reshedule our heli hike to the next day. It was hassle free experience as all I need to do is to call up Fox Glacier operators to change our schedule. So with more time now, we can explore Hokitika
The first place we stopped by was the Jade Factory and the clock tower (located just beside the factory). This was recommended by my friend who is currently studying in New Zealand. The factory creates jade jewellery and carvings of traditional Maori designs. There were plenty of designs and
different types of jades to choose from. There is something to buy for everybody's price range but the nicer pieces are quie pricey. We bought some as souvenirs. Besides that, we got to experience the making of Jade first hand as they actually open their work-area to the public.
After shopping, we went to the National Kiwi Center
. This was not planned earlier, as we
just stumbled into it, as we drove round the town. The real highlight of this visit was the encounter with a real life Kiwi (very active, running around non-stop, and in order to trick them thinking it's night time, the whole place was in pitch black because Kiwi sleeps during daytime), the giant eels, living dinosaur Tuatara, and of course, the fish with legs (Axolotl)! Having said that, the admission fees were quite pricey considering the small area, but we understood that they needed the funds to keep the place running. What was really satisfying was that we managed to see 2 of the 'Big Five' or rather 'Small Five' of New Zealand - Kiwi and Tuatara. The other three being Kea, Takahe, and Kaka. We managed to see Kea later in our road trip.
We continued our journey to the next town - Fox Glacier
a 159 km drive from Hokitika and it took us almost 2hrs 30mins to reach. Along the way, it was an amazing drive seeing various scenic landscapes from grasslands, rivers to eventually snow-capped mountains. We even stopped by to take photos of the beautiful landscape. Before we reached Fox Glacier town, we did not stop and just drove pass another township called Franz Josef Glacier.
When we eventually reached Fox Glacier, we immediately felt relaxed with its intimate and village atmosphere. It had a stunning outlook across surrounding farms and The it was a small
township where all facilities, restaurants, accommodation were within walking distance of the town centre. I bought tickets for my parents and in-law to go for the guided river floor walk to the "Terminal Face" of the glacier so that they can too experience the glaciers up-close. These walks were less strenous than the other activity that I have planned with my wife the next day - Heli hike. Whilst they do that activity, my wife, daughter and I spent the rest of the day, exploring the town and visited Lake Matheson. However, we did not spend too long at Lake Matheson
because it was getting dark, and we planned to go there again early in the morning next day to see the sunrise. We spent the night at Fox Glacier Holiday Park.