New Zealand – Glaciers and Fjords part I

I’ll start this post with a couple of apologies. I hadn’t initially intended on this blog being such a day-to-day diary sort of thing, but the posts appear to have evolved that way. I promise to skip out the relatively boring days. In addition, this post is going to be pretty long, with lots and lots of pictures. Sorry. Anyway…

I arrived in the village of Franz Josef after a nice drive down from Arthur’s Pass. Rather than do the sensible thing of booking some accommodation and getting a little bit of local knowledge about what to do/where to go, I headed straight up to the glacier car park and started walking. The glacier itself is pretty huge, but due to health and safety regulations, you are severely limited in how close you can approach it (without paying for a guide) – on the day on my visit, this restriction was set at 500m – miles away! The view of the glacier, while impressive, wasn’t great, with the main feature being a huge pile of terminal moraine and a distant wall of very dirty-looking ice. This led me to make a choice – I was going to go on a helicopter flight over the glaciers. It was too late in the day to arrange anything, so I headed off to a lovely and remote campsite (at -43.408726, 169.828621 for the curious), took some awful pictures of the sunset, and got some kip.

The next morning, I started with a walk around Lake Matheson. It’s a picturesque lake in its own right, but it is most well known for its reflections of the mountains Mt Cook and Mt Tasman. A group of ducks caused me some degree of irritation by playing around and ruining the stillness of the water’s surface, but they left and I managed to see the reflection shown above. I had to have a little sit and contemplate the scene, it was so quiet and still and gorgeous. Fortunately, some other walkers (trampers/stampers) broke my reverie, and I headed into the town to catch a helicopter. I’ll let the photos tell the story…

Finally some proof I’m actually abroad! After the flight, I headed for Queenstown, following yet another beautiful road along the western coast, then heading inland – a long drive, broken only by an hour-long stop for a landslide. An interesting detail was that they use helicopters with water buckets to wash small debris off the road. Unfortunately, the slip itself was round a corner, and I didn’t have the conviction to leave my car long enough to take any photos of it. Queenstown – not my kind of place. I spent three nights there, and did little but eat, sleep, drink, and write a blog post. I think its the sort of town that works far better if either a) you’re in a group, b) you’re under 25, or c) you’ve got plenty of money to spend. I didn’t fit into any of those brackets, so was happy to move on. I spent a couple of hours touring some local sights – Glenorchy, and Kawarau Gorge (home of the bungee jump and location for the Pillars of the Kings in LOTR) – and bought a bottle of wine from the Chard Farm Vineyard, which proved very tasty.

Let’s take a break… I don’t want to induce comas in my readers 😉

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