The promised rain arrived during the evening and continued into the morning, meaning we were in no hurry to get out; however, we did have a phone call to make to the helicopter company. I ended up speaking to the owner/pilot who confirmed we would be on the flight tomorrow, subject to the forecast good weather eventuating. Good news!
The limited indoor options in FJG meant stay in the apartment or chance the rain on another hike. We chose the latter. The Franz Josef Glacier Valley is, below the glacier, essentially in two parts. The lowest part is well-covered in regenerated rainforest that has reclaimed that part of the valley given up by the glacier hundreds of years ago, while the middle part - up to the glacier itself - has only been revealed in the last 100 years or so and has much less vegetation.
We chose to walk in the lowest part because we could follow a number of short walks, which would give us the option of leaving early if the rain returned in force, or if we just felt like it! The first walk we chose was the Sentinel Rock track, a mere 1.5 km return - but quite steep - trail. The observation point looks out over the massive Sentinel Rock itself, so named because, when first observed by Europeans, it was protruding from the glacier face like a guardian. Since then, the glacier has retreated approximately 2.5 km.
Our next hike was to Peter’s Pool. This kettle pool has been named after Peter Westland who, in 1894, camped out in the area, alone, to explore the nearby glacier and the regenerating rainforest. The remarkable thing about this explorer was that he was only nine years old at the time! I could not imagine letting any of our children, let alone our grandchildren in these times, undertake such an adventure!
With the weather continuing to hold, we decided to continue on the Douglas Walk, which took us down the valley to the historic Douglas Bridge, named for an early surveyor. The bridge allows walkers to stand above the Waiho River, which is quite vigorous at that point. We returned to the car feeling very ready for an afternoon’s rest!
Tonight, we created Waiho Savoury Mince! Nothing too special about it, except that we made three batches so that we didn’t have to cook at the end of a couple of long days that we have ahead of us!