The day started off in Hokitika another small town on highway 6 on the West Coast. We stopped off at New World (still not sure which is our favourite New Zealand supermarket) for supplies and then found a little bookshop. We managed to off load a book and saw the 4th edition of South America on a Shoestring, they are up to the 11th edition now! The lady in the shop was a bit crazy!
From Hokitika we travelled 130km south along highway 6 to Franz Josef Glacier, which is the name of the town as well as the local attraction. The area has many glaciers, Franz Josef and the Fox Glacier are the most well known and accessible for tourists. Our plan for the day was to book a trip to walk one of the Glaciers the next day and then visit the other one and have a look from below.
We headed to the local tourist information point who informed us that there had been a rock fall on the Franz Josef Glacier which meant that the walk was closed. We had no choice but to book for the Fox Glacier walk. Guess it made our decision easier. We booked for the next day and then headed to the Franz Josef Glacier to have a look from the bottom.
These is a car park near to the glacier, and once parked up you have to walk about 3km to the viewing area. Like most walking routes maintained by DOC in New Zealand they are well signposted with estimated times. The estimated time was 45 mins. We must walk fast as it only took 20 minutes. We’ve noticed this a lot actually throughout South America as well, the estimated appears to be accurate for extremely slow walkers. Maybe you’re meant to take your time and admire the view and the nature for a while.
There was some interesting information about how the glacier has moved over the years and how the movement has been accelerated over the past year with rising temperatures. We continued to walk up along the bed of rock which the retreating glacier had left behind and admired the waterfalls on either side as well as the streams coming from the emerging river.
You can get to around 150 metres from the face of the glacier where you can see the river coming out from underneath the ice. Then into the distance the glacier rises and rises and rises up into the clouds.
The rain started to fall so we decided to head back to town to a bar to get a drink and use some wifi.
We went to the Speights Landing Bar and with a couple of hot drinks booked a hostel in Queenstown where we would be dropping off our Jucy Campervan. We also applied for a relocation camper from Queenstown to Christchurch. Luckily, we had a quick response and had the offer accepted and after a quick call we secured the camper. A 4 berth luxury camper van!! – this is probably one of the best ways to save some money!
We used the wifi again outside the bar sat in the Jucy camper, you can’t sit in a bar using wifi without getting a drink! We decided to stay in another DOC site and then have a night in the Top 10 campsite in Franz Josef Glacier. We headed just north of the town to the Otto/MacDonalds campsite for just NZ$12 a night.
Fighting off the insects, the campsite was next to a lake, we both cooked a very spicy veg, with noodles and blackbeans! It was very spicy which caused John to sweat and then shout at me.