Lake Matheson and Franz Josef - WOW
So, time for our next little adventure up the west coast, about 5 hours drive from Queenstown to the Westlands, aka the wetlands. They get between 5 and 10 metres of rain a year in this part of New Zealand and for comparison purposes London gets 650mm of rain and if you thought Scotland was wet they get a pitiful 1.2 metres, so it was highly unlikely we would miss the rain in our 2 days.
We set off on Wednesday night with high hopes for our trip though we were already behind schedule as Adam had to pop into work to help out for a bit. We were on the road for 7.30 so hoped to make it there before midnight. It appeared, however, that Stella had other plans. We headed towards Wanaka and just as we arrived at the outskirts of the town the heating started blowing cold. Slowly the engine temperature started to rise and as we parked up in Wanaka it had just hit the red. I was more than a little sad that our plans were well and truly scuppered and I was wondering if we would get the money back on the hike we had booked. No such thoughts were on Adam's mind, this van was getting fixed and that was that. But who would be able to fix the van at 9pm? Adam Michael Taberner, that's who. I don't really know how I didn't laugh out load as Adam did what men do best and sat looking at the engine with a torch as if suddenly he would become blessed with all the knowledge into the workings of a car engine and be able to get it to work. Well, blow me down with a feather, that's exactly what happened. He found a hole that he thought needed water in it and he filled it and Stella was all better. I still think it needs to get properly checked out but we managed to get safely to Lake Matheson by the merry time of 4am! Thank goodness for the fact that we could just sleep in the van, we just made the sofa into a bed and went to sleep.
When we woke up we weren't really sure where we were going to find ourselves as it was pretty much just a car park. However, it turned out to be just a car park for the Matheson café where we had a lovely brekkie and coffee and then followed the guided walk to see the lake. The view that confronted us was only the third thing since arriving in NZ to make me jump up and down over and over, it was simply stunning! It turns out that when Fox glaciers retreated in its last head towards the sea some 14000 years ago it left a huge hole which then filled with water. The lake sits so still because it is well protected from the wind and has no waters flowing in or out of it. It therefore reflects a near perfect image of Mount Cook. The picture I uploaded is actually upside down, did you even notice?
We headed into town and got kitted out for our hike. Big boots, ugly jackets and crampons were in order. When we arrived at the foot at the Franz Josef glacier I wasn't overly awe inspired, as I thought I might be, until the guide told us to guess how far away we were from the base of the glacier, I guessed 500m but it turned out to be 2km! It seemed to take forever till we were actually walking on the ice but once we were there and realised we were walking on a glacier, 1 of only 2 in the world that run down into a rainforest, and that we could see the rainforest from where we were, it was pretty awesome. We abseiled down a hole in the ice and walked through the crevices seeing the perfect blue ice, it was cool. After the hike, Adam and I were tired and in desperate need of a shower, good job we were heading to the glacier hot pools where we lazed under the setting sun and the protection of the rainforest leaves, it was very special.
It was then off for some fast food and another drive to a random car park hoping we would wake up to another awesome sunrise and breathtaking view. We sat in the van gazing at the stars through the skylite roof drinking red wine and eating chocolate - perfect! Night Night