Wanaka

Yesterday we drove for 6 hours from Abel Tasman to Fox Glacier.  And today we were leaving the glacier to go to Wanaka and it was a beautiful day!

There was a lookout to the actual glacier (and Mount Tasman and Cook), so we dropped by before leaving town.

And then we were actually on our way to Wanaka (my favourite place in New Zealand, with Nelson as a close second). It was a stunning drive, so I took some pictures as we went along.

Just outside of Wanaka is an amazing place called Puzzling World. Inside is filled with illusions and outside is a giant 3D maze.  We thought we would beat the maze in record time and we did not.  But we still made it to all 4 towers and out, so I’ll take that as a success.

And then we were in Wanaka! A triathlon was just finishing when we arrived so we saw lots of runners slowly jogging as we walked around the lake.

Franz Josef

It turns out we were right and the cloud cover prevented us from completing our scheduled glacier helicopter ride and hike.  However, the glacier guides at Franz Josef also run a glacier valley hike that doesn’t involve any ice time and we were able to join that this morning.

While we were disappointed not to be on the ice, it was a fantastic time! We walked through the rainforest, saw waterfalls and even caught a glimpse of the glacier through the clouds. And the tour gave us waterproof boots, pants and coat, which allowed us to wade in the river instead of the road whenever we wanted, which was really awesome.

According to our guide, 60% of heli hike tours are cancelled, because the helicopter has to fly at certain heights for noise control, and those heights are often not accessible due to weather.  He did a tour on Christmas Eve, and they were stuck up on the glacier for an extra couple of hours because it was too cloudy for the helicopter to come earlier.  So we’re just feeling blessed that we even got to see it at all.

From here we saw some kiwi birds at the West Coast Wildlife Center (photos not allowed), and explored all the gift shops in town.

This was not a bad start to 2017 at all!

Christchurch to Franz Josef

The TranzAlpine train was as wonderful as I had hoped! It was a beautiful 5 hour ride from Christchurch to Greymouth, and the only time in which I will stand for hours in order to get better views (from the open viewing car rather than my seat).

When we arrived in Greymouth it was raining, which didn’t bode well for our time in Franz Josef.  Franz Josef is a town just off the Franz Josef Glacier, so we had booked ourselves a glacier hike tomorrow morning, but if it’s raining and cloudy it is likely to be cancelled.

But since it was New Year’s Eve, we decided to treat ourselves tonight, and not think about tomorrow. We found a wonderful restaurant, that let us in before their reservations arrived.

And then we got ourselves a private glacier hot pool, to fully rest and recuperate from all our traveling.

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T’was a lovely and relaxing way to bring in 2017.