Day 21/35 – Part 2/2

After loading all my wet clothes in the car I drive to the Fox Glacier a bit further down the road. Because it’s friday, I book a room as well. This one includes the breakfast and I am allowed to eat that now instead of tomorrow. Sounds good. The owner is a bit weird though. It’s just like we are not connecting and she doesn’t seem to understand humor.

The room is nice but strange. There is a shawl on the bed with a pine cone on top of it??????? What do I have to do with that, I ask myself. Can I remove it or does it need to stay there? When I have a look around I see more of these and also bunches with lavender. The bathroom has two perfectly rolled up towls lying in an angle towards each other… with a pine cone in front of them. A lot of non-functional crap if you ask me (-;

Today I want to visit the Fox Glacier, in the afternoon back to the Franz Josef and in the evening to that same beach for the sunset. But first I go to Gillespie Beach which is very closeby. Maybe that provides some photo opportunities. After that I want to check out Lake Matheson, where mountain and glacier reflections can be seen in the morning, as preparation for tomorrow morning.

Arriving at the beach I didn’t have a proper look as it turns out later. I follow a path that seems to go to the ocean, but it takes very long to get there and I am getting the feeling this is the wrong one. I continue a bit further to the next turn and if I don’t see the ocean then… Slowly it starts raining. When I decide to return I see a large rain shower coming in my direction. The rain intensifies. Not again? I have at least 20 minutes to go to get back at the car. Even more rain falls but not as bad as yesterday.

Close to the car I see indeed that I have taken the wrong trail. The beach is only a 30 second walk from the car and isn’t that spectacular at all.

The rain is falling much harder now and I return to my hotel. In lack of proper subjects I shoot a couple of my room…

Hotel in Fox Glacier

…and the bathroom.

Hotel in Fox Glacier

It keeps raining for a couple of hours but around 15:00 it suddenly dries up and I see a partial blue sky. My original plan still seems feasible. It’s tight but doable. First I go to the Fox for a walk to the terminal, the end of the glacial tongue. I see a sign for ’Glacier View’ and go there first. The view is beautiful: rainforest that shades off into the glacier or the other way around of course, depending on your point of view.

Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier

During these 10 minutes I’m photographing here I see the sky being covered by clouds and even the upper part of the glacier gets completely covered. These things happen so fast here. Directly after it starts raining again.

I continue to Franz Josef Glacier but it keeps getting worse. For a while I have a good look at all the photobooks at the visitor center and I see a nice one taken from Robson Point (where I was yesterday) with a very good view on the glacier from closeby. So I should have walked that steep trail going down after all. Well because of the rain that wasn’t a real possibility anyway. Maybe that I go up there the next time, but then with fewer equipment. Now I know what’s waiting there for me.

In the photobooks I find other interesting locations like Monro Beach and Curio Bay. These are on my route to the south so that’s convenient. The weather forecast for today is bad. During the afternoon the showers will become a major rain curtain. The forecast for tomorrow is the same as was given yesterday for today. I had better return because the remaining part of today is lost. The visitor center has some information about the tectonic plates under New Zealand and about the Alps. These last ones still rise 10 millimeters each year. At the same time, a small layer is eroded from the top by the weather. Interesting. This is by the way one of the wetter places of New Zealand. Every year around 4 meters of water poor down here. So, it’s not exceptional in any way that so much water falls down these days.

Outside, rain falls down at the same rate as yesterday afternoon. The rest of the day I am reading in my hotel and watching television. Another relaxing afternoon.

I think a little bit about that ’walk’ of yesterday. A 6 kilometer ascend with 400 altitudemeters took me 3 hours and the same distance going down 2.5 hours. It felt like going down was much easier but it was only a half hour faster. This says something about the route. There were a lot of technical parts that slowed me down.

I have walked the Grand Canyon once and if I remember well, the distance was double (11 kilometers) but nearly 4 times the number of altitude meters (1500). Going down was almost the same as yesterdays hike, but going back up took around 9 hours. Here there was a real path. On average it was twice as steep as yesterday but there were no obstacles. That’s the reason the way back up took so long compared to the way down.

Tomorrow I will continue to Haast. I can stay here for a couple of days, waiting for better weather, but that will cost me other things I want to see as well. The terminals I have seen before. Should the weather be ok in the morning I will visit them but otherwise I’ll skip them.

Maps, Charts & Downloads

GPS Map with color coded altitude information

Color coded distance/altitude chart

Color coded distance/altitude chart, New Zealand Late Summer 2011, Day 21

Download the original gpx file gpx file here.