Glacier to Grape

Trip Start Jan 23, 2013
Trip End Apr 24, 2013

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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Thursday, February 7, 2013

Wally has trouble getting his head around global warming at the best of times but after hiking through the lush ancient rainforest along side a raging river then climbing (walked really) up in the valley we were faced with this huge piece of ice or as it is correctly known Fox Glacier.

Apparently Fox Glacier is advancing at the moment having been in retreat a few years ago. A 20km huge lump of ice by a rain forest and at only 250m above sea level all seems a bit strange to me.

We came across a small suspension foot bridge built in the early 1920's when tourists first started to visit the glacier. Wally was feeling very brave when he tentatively ventured on to the bridge. It was only when he was half way across trying to be brave that Jan decided to rock the whole bridge quite ferociously. Wally wasn't too amused and decided it was much more fun watching helicopters!!

We weren't the only Poms having fun either. We saw a couple of old E type Jags and ventured over to have a closer inspection only to discover that they were members of the Classic Jaguar Owners Club from Suffolk who had shipped their cars over for a months tour round Nz. There were probably a dozen including a C type and a SS ( Also a MGB had sneaked into the party).

Leaving Fox Glacier and heading North soon leaving the Southern Alps behind and encountering the Paparoa Range which basically meant leaving the tall mountains behind and substituting them with slightly smaller versions.

The roads were still up,down left and right heaven. Lunch in Greymouth which is as grey and boring as the name suggests. Then on to the coastal road to our evening destination Blue Waves Punakaiki.

Home of the Pancake Rocks and Blow Hole Caves. After riding in one side and out the other we couldn't find the place. Bearing in mind there isn't exactly a lot there. We retraced our steps and Wally gave in and pulled out the GPS where every address has been programmed.

Our destination was 25km back down the road! We had noticed a sign declaring no more gas for 90Km when we left Greymouth and the GS computer stated we had a range of 80km when we pulled in to Blue Waves so no problem a bit tight but nothing to worry about.

But then Wally suddenly became seriously pissed off! We had been booked into a home stay.

Ok we had a wonderful sea view from our spotless room that was no bigger than our downstairs shower room. No ensuite, no tv (luckily it wasn't a Sunday night) and more importantly nothing around for miles.

Our hosts Dennis, Rae and her were unaware of our uncomfortable situation and were charming. There was no choice but to head back into Greymouth 30km away for tea.

Spieghts Alehouse was our chosen restaurant for the evening and while Jan enjoyed her chicken in filo pastry,Wally is still undecided about his choice. This area of the South Island coast is a major source of whitebait and being a lover of whitebait Wally ordered the whitebait dish. Now a Southern Hemisphere whitebait isn't the same as we are used too and 4 burger type patties of whitebait arrived in a binding of egg and flour and while not that bad didn't taste any thing like a good old Essex whitebait. Eating small worms seemed a good description of their texture!

Finally back at our home stay our hosts had been joined by their neighbour who having been in Christchurch at the time of the earthquake recounted her experiences to us. At this point I should mention that they had been enjoying their vino and our host slowly evolved into the Kiwi version of Kevin Bloody Wilson and his views made Bluey sound tame!

Then the penny dropped and we both suddenly realised who our host reminded us of. Being short,tanned and very vocal it could only be Jans ex!

We made our excuses and had an early night. Sunday morning and we were on the empty road heading North to the town of Motueka on Tasman Bay 320 Km away and a less isolated area.

With the temperature in the mid 20's clear roads even more breathtaking scenery. All going rather too well really.After our usual al fresco lunch we set off and after about 20 seconds Wally received a hard whack and a strong vocal reminder that perhaps it would be a good idea if we drove on the left!

We were heading into a blind left hand bend at the time so we were way on the wrong side! Phew. Having thought about it perhaps being so used to driving abroad where it's automatic to drive on the right on this occasion mind registered we are abroad but forgot here they drive on the left!

That won't happen again as insufficient undies in stock.We arrived safely in Motueka with the mountain ranges behind us and the first really agricultural area we had been in for a while. We had arrived in wine country.
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