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Anita and Bernie’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 09 Feb 2008

Location: Fox Glacier, New Zealand

MapHi everyone - thank you for the lovely e-mails you sent us. It is nice to hear the news from home (although, frankly, we prefer to be in NZ)!!
Another wonderful day travelling the West Coast of NZ. It is totally different from the East Coast. This is full of lush, cool, temperate rainforest. Wonderful plants verge onto the road as well as specacular mountains and valleys. (We are running out of superlatives to describe places so if any of you have more dramatic words please let us know as spectacular, amazing and fantastic are getting a bit repetetive!!!)
The one thing we did encounter which was not very pleasant was our first attack from the dreaded sandflies. Little monsters that suck your blood. Even I got bitten and that is saying something!! They are small, black and get everywhere!
Yesterday we travelled from Wanaka, in the heart of the Southern Alps, where it was dry and the land covered in brown grass through the Haast Pass where the change to lush ground was marked. From ground level we can see snow above us on the mountains rising 2000 metres.
Today we went to Glacier land. We 1st visited Fox Glacier on the SW side of Mt Tasman. For both of us it was yet another 1st being so close to a glacier. We walked the river valley over rough terrain for 30 minutes until we arrived at the glacier terminal face. It is indescribable but here goes.... The side walls of the valley were a sheer drop from the top to the bottom. It shows the path the glacier took and the power that ice has to shape the land. The glacier at the base was dirty looking with all of the debris on it but nearer the top the ice was a blue/green with crevices and seracs (peaks to you!). The valley was strewn with enormous boulders and at one point on our walk we were not allowed to stop for fear of landslides.
Franz Josef Glacier, to our mind, was not as dramatic but the uphill walk to see it was! We climbed up steadily for 15 minutes to come out above the face of the glacier. It was worth the walk. This glacier had an ice cavern for the outflow but its valley was not that dramatic. However it is incredible to see ice next to rainforest.
Overhead, all you can hear is the sound of the helicopters flying people to take the lazy way of seeing the glaciers. We decided, for Steve's sake, that we would not increase our carbon footprint by taking the helicopter trip. It is also very expensive and believe me when I say the walk was well worth the effort just to get up close.
Love to you all