Glacier country and a whole load of rain
Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand
We headed from Woodstock to Glacier Country to see Fox Glacier, Franz Josef Glacier and Lake Matheson, we were really looking forward to this part of the trip as we'd loved the Glaciers in South America.
Day 1 - We got to the town and it was absolutely pouring down, it was grey, cloudy and miserable and there was no chance of us seeing anything that day so we found a campsite just outside town and decided to sit it out.
Day 2 - The next day the weather was just as bad, we thought about moving on but we really wanted to see the Glaciers and the Lake so we decided to stay but for a change of scenery we went to camp at Gillespie's beach albeit we couldn't see the beach!
So far we'd had 2 full days of being trapped in the van and we were beginning to get van fever, there's only so many beers you can drink and so many monopoly games you can play.
Day 3 .... trapped again, this rain wasn't letting up. Van fever was getting worse as we were laughing a lot ... at nothing in particular, a sure sign that we were becoming hysterical
Day 4 ..... woke up and it wasn't raining so we managed to get some fresh air and go for a walk along the beach which was nice. We headed back into town and called at Lake Matheson on the way. It was still raining but not torrential so we went for a walk round. The Lake is famous for the reflection of Mount Cook in the water but it was so cloudy we couldn't even see Mount Cook, never mind the reflection. Afterwards we camped out in the van in town to use the WiFi. At about 4pm Casson got out and couldn't believe what he was seeing, the clouds had rolled away, the sun was out and he could see the mountains in the distance .... go go go ..... we headed for Franz Joseph Glacier.
We hiked about 45 minutes to get to the Glacier and when we got there the wait had been worthwhile it was amazing! Well that's what we wanted to be able to tell you, in actual fact we were disappointed, the Glacier had receded so much over the years that compared to what we had seen in SA it was tiny! Casson was hilarious, he was very vocal about his thoughts, they went a little bit like this (albeit I've tamed it down for on here)
"Come to New Zealand they said, it's lovely they said, they never said it rains all the bloody time, call yourself a Glacier? I've seen more ice in my freezer back home! This is what we've waited around for? The other one better be bigger than this!"
I thought it was funny but that could have been the hysteria from the van fever!
Day 5 ..... The next day was bright and sunny but freezing first thing in the morning. We headed to Lake Matheson and were there for 7am. What a difference the weather can make, it was absolutely beautiful, the reflection of the Mountain in the water was unreal! It was like a completely different place. There was a viewing point that had a load of Japanese tourists camped out on it so no one else could get a shot, well that is unless your names Casson. In his words he'd not waited for 5 days to not get a picture. He was straight down onto the platform, got right in the middle of them and asked them to move!
As we were heading back to the van huge tour groups started arriving, a hop on hop off bus full of kids arrived and it was at that point we realised how lucky we were having the van, if we didn't have it we would be on a bus like that with all the cool kids (and by cool we mean really loud and annoying)!
We headed over to Fox Glacier and again we weren't wowed, cue Casson talking about freezers and icicles again! To be fair though we have been spoiled by the glaciers in SA, one of the glaciers we saw there is one of the few glaciers in the world that is actually growing so it was massive! Also, we're sure if you did a helicopter tour and were actually on the Glacier it would have been impressive, we just couldn't afford it.
Although we hung around for days Lake Matheson was completely worth it.
1) We need to get out of the van and get some exercise, we're in danger of porking up massively whilst we're here
2) They weren't lying when they said it rains a lot on the west coast!