Wow, we’ve been on the road over 200 days now! Yesterday morning was another clear, sunny day in Franz Josef. We’d heard that clear days like this are not the norm, so we’ve been lucky to have great views of the mountains and the glaciers while we’ve been here. We had considered paying for a helicopter flight to land and walk on the glaciers or maybe just a sight-seeing plane ride, but those options were more expensive than we wanted to pay. Maybe another time when we’re not saving our money for another six months of travel yet to go.
We heard that Lake Matheson was a prime photo spot for the high peaks of the glacier country, especially Mt. Cook and Mt. Tasman. On clear days, the still, reflective surface of Lake Matheson is a great vantage point from which to photograph the snow covered mountains. We didn’t get a sunrise start, but made it to the lake reasonably early. As we set out on the trail around the lake, clouds and mist shrouded Mt. Cook, which is also known by it’s Maori name, Aoraki. A light breeze also ruffled the surface of the lake, so it seemed like we wouldn’t get any great photos. We stopped at a popular photo spot, called Reflection Island, that juts out into the lake and has terrific views of the mountains. Alan persuaded me to stay put for a while, and his patience was duly rewarded. Enjoy the photos he made after the clouds cleared out of the mountains and the breeze stopped on the lake.
Today we woke up to sunshine and clear blue skies, so we thought we better hustle down to Fox Glacier before the inevitable clouds settled in. Fox Glacier is similar to Franz Josef, with a large, high elevation snow field that spills into the valley below. We started out from the parking area and noticed a pool of glacier ice cubes down below us in the river. Alan climbed down to investigate.
Happy New Year!
Today we slept in a bit before packing up for our drive south to spend a few days in New Zealand’s glacier country. On the way, we stopped to see the Pancake Rocks of Punariki in Paparoa National Park. Views along the coast were already quite spectacular, but the Pancake Rocks were like nothing else we’ve seen in New Zealand. Here the coastal rocks are stacked in layers like pancakes and eroded away by the sea into fantastic columns and walls. In some places blow holes make thundering sounds when the surf and tide are just right.