This is what I was most excited about for our trip (well, this and penguins, but you can’t win them all). I’d never seen one before, and I just think they’re so cool (no pun intended). They’re huge, they move, and sadly, they’re disappearing. We saw two glaciers that day, the first stop was Franz Josef. The campsite we had stayed at that night had posters in the bathrooms warning us about glacier safety. Everyday the park rangers determine how close people can get to the glacier, the risk of avalanches, flash floods, rocks slides and update the conditions every few hours. We first took a walk to the viewing sight at Peter’s Pool, which is only a ten minute walk, but is worth the view.
There was a plaque at the edge showing photos of what the glacier looked like in other years, which freaked us out about climate change. But also was kind of a cool thing, about how temporary things are. If we were to come back in a year, it would be different, we’re part of an exclusive group of people who will see the glacier like this, it’s pretty cool. We walked back to the start and did part of the track to the actual glacier, the hike is a few hours, so we didn’t have time to go as close as we could, but you get the idea from a distance, and I would argue the valley is just as beautiful as the glacier. The river is all glacier water, so it’s this beautiful grey blue colour. There are also tonnes of waterfalls flowing into the valley. We saw some people drinking the water, so we tried it. I couldn’t believe how fresh it tasted!
Then we drove to lake Matheson, which is an icon of New Zealand. The mountains and glaciers surround the lake in the background, and the view reflects in the lake. Of course we didn’t know this until after we decided not to hike to it, so we stayed at the field and hung out with the cows and ate our lunch.
There was a point when the cows all started walking to the back pasture. All at once, without warning. It was freaky.
Then we ventured to our next glacier, Fox glacier. It’s the one you can see in the photo above. The best view of the glacier is from where we were at Lake Matheson, but the valley it fills is HUGE. As we were driving in there were signs with years on them, signifying where the glacier had once been. We’re talking kilometres. We hiked a bit in the glacier, around the corner of one of the cliffs so that we could actually see it. The rock faces were so impressive and the river was so pretty. It’s so strange to stand in such a huge space and a) feel so small and b) know that it was once filled with ice. Also took a sweet Shelley pic as we were leaving the parking lot.
Then we had an afternoon of more driving, but first we stopped at a lookout spot on the way out of the national park where my friend took a sneaky pic of me being a photographer.
The drive was beautiful since we were now fully immersed in the southern alps. We stopped at a little waterfall on our long drive, but as the sun was setting we started into Queenstown and Wanaka area. This was one of my favourite places because of how gorgeous it was. Quite a few people told me I was missing out because I wasn’t going to be in New Zealand for much of their summer, but I would vouch for the fall, it’s gorgeous. There’s beautiful golden light, the trees become yellow, and the landscape is perfect. That night we camped just outside of Wanaka. The night was so beautiful, and when we got there the moon just started to rise and we flipped out.
Since we were back in service, we were in contact with one of our friends who was also travelling the south island. We told him where we were camping and we made plans to meet up the next day since he was in Wanaka.
The next morning we were surprised to find him outside our tent. He went very early that morning and knew what our van looked like so just camped out. It was really funny but also really nice to see him. Also woke up to a very foggy morning which lead to beautiful photos. We packed up and drove into wanaka, which is a ski town. It’s also on a lake so I think it also does well in the summer. It was really beautiful and cute, we started at a cafe to get some wifi to plan our Queenstown adventures in the coming days. Some of my friends booked Bungee jumping, but Steph and I didn’t want to so we booked zip lining (stories to come).
We walked around Wanaka for a bit, looking at shops and such, and then said goodbye to our friend and told him we would meet him in Queenstown. We decided we wanted to do a hike in a park outside of Wanaka. We started driving towards where our map was telling us to go, it took us onto a gravel road that drove through this gorgeous valley, which was all farm land, I’ve never seen so many sheep or cows before. It wasn’t crowded though, because of how big the valley is. We drove for a very long time, and then my dream came true when this happened!
I’d been hoping for something like this everytime we saw sheep or cows. So we waited for the cows to cross, and continued to drive on. After driving way longer than we originally anticipated, we saw some signs and another van and parked. There we read a sign that told us that the car park was actually 10 more kilometres down the road and that sometimes the road closes because you have to drive through streams, there was a stream right there that we would have had to drive through, and we weren’t confident Shelley was going to make it. So we took our own little walk there. We explored around the river and walked down farther. We threw rocks into the water and took some cool pictures. It was a perfect fall day, I couldn’t believe how much it felt like fall at home. It was beautiful.
Then we started the drive to Queenstown, which was one of the nicest drives during the whole trip. It was about one hour but we stopped at a lookout point to enjoy the view.
I’m going to leave Queenstown for the next post, so stay tuned team!