Starting Point: Franz Josef
Ending Point: Franz Josef
Kilometers traveled: 126
Today we woke up to pouring rain. It had been raining off and on all night, which is what we expected. But we were hopeful that it would clear up as bit as we were going up on the glacier this morning. We got up early, showered, ate a good breakfast, and packed up the car…and it continued to rain.
When we got to our outfitter this morning, it was crammed with people and they were waiting on the weather report. Looking at the board, the forecast was for more rain and clouds today and partly sunny tomorrow. So we asked if we could move our trip to tomorrow. “No problem,” the gal behind the counter said. “It’s actually a really good idea as conditions will be better tomorrow!” So we’re on for a heli-hike on Franz Josef tomorrow morning instead. It was nice to have the flexibility to move it. We are lucky that it is still shoulder season here and there was space on tomorrow’s flights. It means we’ll spend one more night here, but there is loads of hiking to do around here, so it will be time well spent.
Of course that meant we now had the whole day to ourselves. We decided to drive over to Fox Glacier, about 30 km down the road. Fox glacier is very different from Franz Josef. You approach Fox glacier from the side (rather than the front like FJ), which means you can get a lot closer to the terminal face. Today we were able to get just under 200 meters from the face, which meant some pretty spectacular ice views. It drizzled a bit on our hike, but was a lot less rainy in Fox Glacier than it was over in Franz Josef. It was a nice morning hike.
After the hike, we headed back over to Franz Josef for a snack and then decided to head North back up the road to check out Okarito. We saw the sign for it yesterday but didn’t really know anything about it. So we headed that way. Okarito is pretty small, but after we passed through the village and hit the end of the road (literallly) we found a dirt parking lot. So we parked and headed out to the beach, which was pretty spectacular. It was still gloomy and cloudy and misty, but the waves were beautiful shades of blue and the beach was dark with iron and covered with polished river rocks and stones and boulders. There was no wind and it was completely still and peaceful. So we headed out for a walk down the beach. We wandered along, watching the waves and looking for rocks with cool patterns to them.
While wandering in the boulders on the beach, Kyle turned around and saw a seal sleeping on a rock. The seal picked up his head and looked at Kyle, but didn’t seem bothered by us. So we watched him from afar for a bit and then headed back. The sandflies were starting to eat us alive and we were ready to head for our home for the night.
We drove back up to Franz Josef, stopped off at the grocery store for a few supplies, and then headed back to our campsite. We spent the afternoon doing research on the Fiordlands, as we’re headed there next and still had not figured out what we want to do while we are there.
Then we cooked up dinner and played cards for a bit. Dinner tonight was chicken and veggie stir fry with rice. And now we’re drinking tea and eating a few cookies and doing some photo editing and blog posting. Tomorrow we head up onto Franz Josef Glacier. The rain stopped this afternoon and the sun actually came out around 4:30. It’s been a lovely and dry evening and we’re hopeful that our day tomorrow will be grand.