Fiordland

13 April 2016

A few miles south of Hokitika we stopped to see Lake Mahinapua.  There is a short drive down a beautiful road canopied with a lush growth of trees and ferns.  This road leads to a parking lot for a small campground on the lake.  It was lovely and well worth the short detour.

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As we traveled along Highway 6 heading south toward Franz Josef Glacier the country was changing as we went through mountains and rolling hills with pastures going in and out from the coastline.  The roads are well paved but only two lanes, frequently narrow and largely unmarked. There are many single track bridges over the numerous waterways that run through the country.  There was one bridge, that in addition to narrowing down to a single lane, also had a railroad track in the middle of it! We assume that traffic in both directions should give way to the train!

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The water  of the Whataroa River (pronounced Fat-a-roa) is aqua blue because it’s glacial run off.  So glad there was a place to pull off the road!

Our last stop before driving into Franz Josef Glacier was Okarito Lagoon.  It’s lovely but we noticed that there were some flies that hopped in the car with us and we had a few bites.

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Arriving at Franz Josef just after sunset, we checked into our room and went to Alice May, the restaurant next door, for dinner.  It looks like an old English Pub.  The inside was wood and there were farm tools and old fashioned household items adorning the walls.  It had started to drizzle and the evening air was cold.  They seated us in front of the tiled fireplace; very cozy!  The food was good and we enjoyed the evening.  Lynnette was starting to feel a cold coming on so we went to bed fairly early.

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Our Room at 10 Cottage, Franz Joseph Glacier

14 April 2016

There are loads of hikes short and long in this area, it is beautiful.  There are several companies that offer helicopter rides over the glacier.  When you are out on the trails the helicopter noise detracts from the ambiance a bit.  I went on a short hike not far from the hotel.  It was beautiful but I encountered something puzzling along one trail.  There was a sign warning of explosives.  Do I continue on, I thought?  It turns out that they are left over from the mining days in the area and were not removed “just in case”!!!

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15 April 2016

We drove to the base of the glacier where I hiked about 20 minutes to a lookout area to get pictures of the glacier.  This area is so very beautiful!  A trampers paradise for sure!

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Next we took a  short drive on a the beautiful, narrow road in toward Fox glacier to a lookout point.  The road ends at a parking lot at the start of several trails where trampers can leave their cars.  It’s great that New Zealand has made many of these national treasures also accessible for those that can’t tramp in.  We had lovely views!

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Fox Glacier

Our next stop was Lake Matheson (also know as Mirror Lake).  There is a gift shop and a restaurant there.  Lynnette had a pot of tea hoping to help clear her congestion while I took the walk out to the lake lookout.  What a lovely walk!  About 10 minutes in there was an area full of large birds making a ruckus and flying from tree to tree.  I watched them for awhile, wishing for a telephoto lens!  There are some lovely pictures of Lake Matheson on the web.  When the water is still you get a perfect reflection of the mountains in the water.  Alas, it was not still as it was afternoon but I will enjoy the pictures and the memories of our time there!

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Lynnette had noticed a place on the map called Bruce Bay so we decided to stop and get some photos there for my husband Bruce.  The weather and the beach were beautiful and we had some good music playing in the car.  Lynnette decided to leave the car door open to hear the music while she took some pictures.  This is where we really got acquainted with the little flies that the people here call sand flies.  When we got back into the car it was full of the little devils!  We spent the next two hours making sure that we were the last meal for as many as possible.  (They are like the midges in the Hebrides – we both look like we have chicken pox!)  Itchy and Scratchy for the rest of trip!

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Continuing south on highway 6 to Wanaka took us between Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea.  As we approached the town of Wanaka the landscape changed dramatically.  Left behind was the lush tropical looking foliage and tall mountains of Franz Joseph and Lake Matheson, replaced by rocky rolling hills covered with native grasses and completely different vegetation.

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We reached the town of Wanaka at sunset and checked into the Manuka Crescent Hotel.  We ate dinner at The Trout Bar along the lake.  We were hungry and the food was good.  They had upgraded our room and so we had separate sleeping areas.  We crashed and everyone got a good nights sleep.

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