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  • Day10

    Big drives and death by walking

    July 10, 2018 in New Zealand ⋅ 🌙 5 °C

    Well today was interesting. We had a lovely start to the morning, we woke up at Cameron Flat with the sun shining on all the snow capped mountains, it was beautiful to see after the torrential rain we had yesterday. We were hurried along, James was very keen to get going this morning after having no reception last night, which meant no wifi, he was very eager to get on the road to find the goods.

    We are on our way up the west coast heading back to Christchurch. The coastal drive is blowing us away, first stop today was Thunder creek waterfall, a short 5 minute walk off the main road, and the name sure was fitting. You could hear the gushing water from the roadside. The air is still quite brisk and has a real bite to it. We went for the short walk to the waterfall and after a few snaps it was back to the vans to head through the Haast pass to get the morning coffee.

    I had the fun experience of driving the bus today, when driving you don't get to take full advantage of the view, so I was glad Asher got a turn to relax and soak up the scenery. Driving through Haast Pass was beautiful, surrounded by mountains with water flowing down them.

    We finally made it to the little town of Haast, and oh my that was small town living. Not much in the way of shops or even houses. We went into the local bar/restaurant for some coffee and was greeted by stag antlers hanging all over the roof and walls, most with the skulls still attached. Jess thought it had a very American feel to it, I imagine a bit like Texas. Asher had some coffee and cake but didn't recommend it, so off down the street to the local cafe we went for Jess and James. In about 1 minute we had seen all there was to see, had got supplies from the outrageously priced general store and it was back on the road.

    Heading further up the coast we hit the beach, it was spectacular, so beautiful and clear. It was very inviting, but as soon as you stepped out of the warm van, the desire to swim was swept away very quickly. We stopped at Knights Head lookout, took in the fresh salty air and admired the view. We kept heading north for Fox glacier. The scenery is so beautiful, you can't help but pull over to take pictures, we are limited in our buses to the safe places we can pull over. But we found a beautiful spot at Bruce Bay beach and hopped out for a short stroll on the sand, or should I say rocks. Their beaches are not like ours, they are covered in rocks, all different sizes, but generally quite small. We had some fun building rock towers and collected some pure white stones. The rocks that you find through the forests, mountain side and on the beach are so different to ours. All their rocks are a mix of quarts, granite, jade and something that looks a bit like silver running through them. They are beautiful, I have collected a few to add to my baggage weight limit coming home.

    We pushed on and finally arrived at the little town of Fox glacier, named after the…Fox glacier. It was a little town with not much to offer, so we stopped for some quick lunch and then we were off to the 'short and mostly flat walk' (described by Asher) to the glacier. I was a little hesitant, and not convinced it was going to be a leisurely stroll. Let me just start by saying...I was right.

    We arrived at the carpark at the entrance to the walk and we had a quick glance at the signs. 1 hour return. No alarms going off yet. We saw on the sign that back in 1862 the glacier was so big that it reached all the way to the carpark. Now, it's a 30 minute hike away. We started walking. Still no alarms going off. There were little ups and downs in the path but still, what a lovely walk. So beautiful! The cliffs on the other-side of the river were amazing. We had to do a couple of river crossings. What fun we had jumping across the rocks to the other side. Yay! We started walking quite steeply downhill. Oh no! Alarm! We are going to have to walk back up this hill later. Back to flat. Yay this is a great, leisurely walk. After a couple of ups and downs we turn the corner and see a vertical stretch of hill that goes beyond what we can see! Big alarm bells! This glacier better be worth the pain about to occur. We got to the base of the vertical hill. Looking up was a daunting site. We were not very keen to start the walk up but, we pushed on! Keenly encouraged by James and Asher, Jess and I took on the mental battle and pushed ourselves up the hill, holding back tears as we turned corners only to see another stretch of rocky hill we would have to tackle. Finally, we got ourselves to the top of the mountain and were looking for the beautiful glacier. At first, we weren't too sure where is was because it was so small and so… so underwhelming. We were a tad disappointed by the slab of ice. However, turning around was the best view of all, looking back over the valley and the beautiful tall mountains with the sun shining through, was worth the pain. After taking lots of pictures and recovering from the trip up, it was time to head back down. The walk back was much more pleasant, taking in the scenery, stopping to collect quartz and jade stones, and enjoying a refreshing drink from the flowing rivers. All in all, the excursion wasn't so bad, but lets just say, thats the last hike for the trip, hopefully. I think a gym membership is very much needed to improve the fitness levels. Hahaha.

    We pushed on and headed to the next town, Franz Josef, for some dinner and to buy the last of the supplies for our last night tomorrow. We pumped and dumped, filled up with water and made it to our campsite for tonight. We arrived in the dark, so look forward to what we will see in the morning. We are parked next to Lake Mapourika, just north of Franz Josef. Our time in the van is slowly coming to a close but, it has been such a great experience and we would highly recommend it.

    Looking forward to our adventures through Arthurs-pass tomorrow.

    ♥️ Jo
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