Hokitika - Franz Josef - Fox Glacier
Trip Start Jan 23, 2013
181Trip End Jul 23, 2013
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We stopped at Lake Ianthe for a cup of tea around 10:00 The lake looked cold but beautiful. We were lucky that at that point the weather was good so Terry was able to take some photos whilst I took in the ambiance.
We drove further South toward Franz Josef, a 12 km glacier located in Westland Tai Poutini National Park. En route we got our first glimpse of snowy peaks as we drove carefully around the winding mountain roads.
When we got to the little town of Franz Josef we popped into the information centre to enquire about the various options available for viewing the glacier
It took the best part of 45 mins at a fair pace to walk up the marked track toward the glacier. The first 15 minutes was an easy forest walk to a river bank view of the glacier. From there, we followed markers which led to a viewpoint nearer the glacier. The track took us over shingle and rocks so was quite rough underfoot. The meltwater streams running alongside us were a clear turquoise blue in colour. We saw helicopters flying overhead; they looked the size of midges against the backdrop of the enormous mountains.
Areas of the valley are hazardous and we were reminded of this every so often by billboards; even so, we ACCIDENTALLY veered off the track and had to back track.
As one would expect the views of the glacier became more spectacular the closer we got. Unfortunately it started to cloud over and rain, so we didn't spend a lot of time at the viewpoint, just long take a couple of photos. Even so, the whole experience was fantastic and one we will never forget.
We drove from Franz Josef on to Fox Glacier town to find a site for the night. As we had got pretty wet from walking back to Elvis from the glacier, we decided to treat ourselves to a self contained cabin on the campsite. We drove into Fox Glacier town and found the local bar where we sat and had a beer. It was a great pub with a roaring fire and friendly locals, if we had not had to drive back we might have stayed longer.
Before heading back to our cabin we popped into the local store for a few provisions, including beers. Once back, I made us some dinner and we both chilled out watching the TV. It made a nice change to have ensuite facilities!