Sunday, November 8, 2015

2015 South Island tour day four

After a good rest at Haast we headed off for Franz Josef Glacier . The weather had closed in a bit and it wasn't such a scenic drive perhaps because we couldn't really tell whether we were next to majestic mountains or not. Just busy going through the photos, I took random images of things I wanted to remember, like this shower head at our motel last night, with high pressure water it gave a really nice back massage :)

What we remember most from that day's drive is the colourful rocks with quartz and orange fungus.

Our stay for the night was going to be at the Franz Josef Montrose which is part backpackers, part motel. The "backpackers" in New Zealand are generally cheap overnight stays where you share a bunk in a room full of other people with a communal kitchen, lounge and toilets for about $20 a night. Not what we would like to do so we paid a very reasonable $55 for our own room with a small toilet/shower of our own, which was probably the bargain of the trip. Granted the walls were a little thin and sound travelled through them quite easily, and at one stage a herd of buffalo [or someone vacuuming upstairs?] went over our ceiling. Otherwise from about 9:00pm everything was quiet, the staff were really professional and passionate about their business and informed us that there was free soup for breakfast, which we declined. $55 for your own room, shower toilet [very clean] and free breakfast - you won't easily beat that.

About 15 minutes before Franz Josef is Fox Glacier . We decided to drive up that valley but there wasn't much happening there. 

According to the signs in the valley the glaciers have retreated from where the car park is back in 1935 and now involve a 1 hour walk to reach them. Being a cloudy day we couldn't enjoy much of the scenery from a distance either. We headed back to the lodge and caught up with emails and rest while watching the clouds slowly breaking up for some sunlight to come through. Then we decided it was time to drive up the Franz Josef valley and walk to the glacier lookout point and the clouds closed in and the rain returned.

There's a good reason why they don't want people feeding the wildlife. The kea are known to rip the windscreen rubber out of cars and like things that are shiny - so it always pays to keep an eye out for them and not encourage them to hang around too much.
The walk to the lookout of the glacier was interesting but it would have been really nice on a clear day - though bad weather also often means interesting images.

At the bottom of the valley we saw the clouds starting to open up but they closed up again as we got closer.

Pay close attention to the warnings in these valleys. The info centre had a picture showing a shallow river compared to rushing 'floodwaters' and it was exactly the same location 6 hours apart. Just because you can cross the river on your way up doesn't mean you will make it across on your way down.

Also to keep in mind, there is a sign banning drones from the valley - perhaps because of the helicopter tours to the glacier.

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