Last night I did laundry and wrote my journal, and ended up going to bed shortly before midnight. Woke up around 8 am, and when I looked out I was amazed that it was a clear morning. The sun wasn’t over the mountains yet, and it had rained overnight, but the view of the mountains was great!
The picture shows the view – and what “Holiday Parks” look like in general.
We fixed breakfast in the kitchen, then drove out the road to a viewpoint of the mountains and Fox Glacier, where you could see most of the glacier. From some of these viewpoints you can see Aoraki/Mt. Cook from the NW, which we saw from the south a couple of days ago.
Then we drove up to the trail to the glacier. The trail is billed as one hour return, which means round trip. We hiked up to the top and back, but it took us significantly longer than an hour. It was a good hike, with a significant increase in elevation (Damn significant, in my opinion. L). As usual, we took our time (I don’t think we passed anyone today, but many passed us), but at the top, we were looking down on Fox Glacier. Both it and Franz Josef Glacier, just to the north, have receded quite a bit in the last few years. (Like, a LOT. L) The DOC has had to extend the trails to the glaciers. At Fox, the DOC is still running guided hikes out onto the glacier. (The public gets to about 200 m from the glacier without guides.) We saw a few rangers out with ice axes, probably working on a trail. We also saw 4 climbers practicing their ice-climbing techniques, and a group of people out with a guide on the glacier. The hike greatly improved my back, which had been bothering me earlier. Not sure it did anything good for Larry. (That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? I’m gonna be a bleeping Hercules by the time we get back. ☺ L)
When we got back to the carpark, we decided it was time to skip the other hikes around Fox Glacier, and head for Franz Josef Glacier. In the town of Franz Josef, Larry went to the grocery for a few things, while I took a much needed nap. Then we stopped at the i-Site/Visitor Center to find out about the holiday parks, trails, and other activities in the area. Most towns have these i-Sites, which can be very helpful with local maps and information.
Based on the information we got, we decided to hike out to the Franz Josef Glacier. We were assured that there was little elevation change, and the DOC estimate of 1 ½ hours was conservative. It was true that there was not a lot of climbing, but it ended up taking us 2 ½ hours.
Along the way we stopped at Trident Falls and fooled around for a while, and stopped at a lot of other places to take photos. The end of the trail was about 500 m from the end of the glacier, but most of the glacier was visible. The only way to get on the glacier safely now is by helicopter, and there were a steady stream of copters going up and back.
By the time we got back to our camper it was after 6:30, so we headed for a holiday park, got a place to stay, and fixed supper. All of these parks have a kitchen, with burners for cooking, and sinks for washing up. Most also have a boiling water dispenser, microwaves, and dishwashing liquid. There are also tables for eating at. Overall, easier than doing it in the van (Although we can still do it in the van. ☺ L).