RandA's Kiwi Kapers travel blog

Mount Cook putting in an early morning appearance

Mounts Cook and Tasman on Lake Matheson

A sign of the times! We saw this everywhere!

Hiking up the Fox Glacier Valley

The terminal face of Fox Glacier

Incredible colours in a glacial pond

A view of the Fox from the Glacier Lookout drive

One of several glacier rivers between Fox and Franz Josef

If you read yesterday’s entries, you will know that we managed to turn a 5 hour drive into a ten hour epic, which is normal for us - we just stop so often and take copious photos! We don’t mind that, of course, but it does mean that we pay the price from time to time. Today, that price was to sleep in and not get to Lake Matheson for the famed early morning stillness and reflections of Mount Cook.

After breakfast, we headed down to Fox Glacier and Lake M - about a 40 minute drive - and set off on the Lake Matheson Walk. It should actually be called the Lake Matheson Rainforest Walk, because, although the walk circumnavigates the lake, it is not very visible for most of the time!

Don’t get me wrong, though, the walk was lovely and pretty easy for most of it's 4.5 km, and when we did get to the lake viewing areas, the wait was worth it. At Reflection Point and the View of Views, we had great reflections of the mountains. Perhaps not the perfect ones of dawn but pretty good all the same. Once again, as has happened so often on this trip, the weather gods were kind after their mischief early in the trip. No sooner had we recorded our reflective images than the wind got up and whipped up the water.

At the end of our walk we had coffee on the cafe terrace, looking out over Mounts Cook and Tasman, and planned the rest of our day. Since we were already in the Fox Glacier area, we decided to take on the Fox Valley walk. This walk is about 3.5 km return along the valley floor so recently vacated by the glacier.

It was very exciting to walk where the glacier had been in living memory, but also sobering to think of the global warming that has contributed to the retreat, at least in part. The other exciting - and ever so slightly nervous-making - part, was walking through the two 400m “don’t stop - landslides” zones. There were no rumbles today, but all around was the evidence that landslides do happen with some frequency.

Reaching the observation area and looking out over the terminal face of the glacier and its attendant moraine, made me think of glaciers as Nature’s Bulldozers. The evidence of the power of glaciers is awesome. Walking back, we also saw numerous waterfalls, brought to life by the recent heavy rains, that added to the enjoyment of the hike.

Back at the apartment, we had a very late lunch and chilled out for a while, planning the rest of the stay in FJG. As part of our planning, we had booked a helicopter flight for tomorrow afternoon, through bookme.co.nz, a discount travel broker. We checked in 24 hours in advance, only to be told that the flight was cancelled, due to forecast bad weather. They didn’t seem interested in rebooking us, until we pointed out that there were still several bookme vacancies for Friday. So, they agreed to put us on standby and told us to check in again in the morning. Hmmm. We were not confident of our chances!

In the evening, before dinner, we crossed the road to the Glacier Hot Pools. This place is not quite as exotic as it seems - the water is in fact glacial water, but it is not geothermally heated. It is heated by gas and fed into a number of pools, both large public pools and small private ones. We opted for a private pool session, not least because we booked it through bookme for half price! A very handy website, that has saved us quite a bit of money.

But back to the pool. It was set up really well, with a private change area and complete privacy provided by fence, bush and ferns. It was not a full on spa, but it was very relaxing after our hikes.

Very simple dinner this evening - NZ lamb steak and blanched veg. Quick and easy!

A full and fulfilling day, but much poorer weather is on the cards for tomorrow, so we shall see what we are able to do.

Happy Trails!


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