Day 25 Paringa to Queenstown
The rain finally stopped sometime during the night and the day dawned bright and sunny. Lovely sight of the sun coming up over the mountains with wispy cloud hovering mid way and the smell of fresh rain on the rainforest. It was a strange experience being in a rainforest anyway but one where the temperature is relatively cold and not hot and humid as one expects is weird. We went to introduce ourselves to the people who run the salmon farm where we have camped overnight but the ones in the café I think were only employees and really couldn't have cared less who we were. Stopped for a while to watch some of the salmon being "farmed", don't think I need to explain more!
Relatively early start as we have a fair distance to go today and we want to stop a while at the glaciers.
First stop Fox Glacier - these are unique glaciers in New Zealand as they are the only ones that are low down to the coast and rainforest rather that up a mountain, in fact it isn't that long ago, relatively speaking they went down to the sea! We walked from the car park up as far as we could without a guide, around a 30 minute fairly easy walk, a bit different from the ones in France which involved a lot of climbing. We could see the edge of the glacier really well and the raging river gushing from it that periodically carried huge blocks of ice down to the sea. This glacier is actually growing at around 1 metre a year rather than receding which is probably the only glaciers in the world that are. As Franz Joseph and Fox are very similar we drove to the car park at Franz Joseph and walked a little way so we could view it but didn't walk all the way to the face as it was much further than Fox. Stopped for lunch at Lake Mapourika just outside Franz Joseph Resort, the lake initially was very mirror like but just as I was going to take a photo the breeze picked up and ruined it - typical! Onwards towards Hokitka where the scenery changed dramatically from rainforest to flat plains, cattle land and the beachside of the windy Tasman Sea. We stopped for an hour at a lovely site on Lake Majinopau to catch a bit of sun as a real sea mist had started to roll in over the coast before heading towards Greymouth. We were very tempted to stop there overnight as it was obviously a very popular place with local caravaners and yacht owners alike with many stopping for the weekend, but we needed to recharge at a powered site. Have finally stopped at South Beach just outside Greymouth, the sea is very close but it is similar to resorts on the North Sea, can be rough, very windy and choppy, not too bad at the moment though - fingers crossed. Definitely not like it's namesake in California though....