Thursday, March 18, 2010


Tekapo to Haast to Franz Josef

Tekapo to Haast to Franz Josef

Due to some time restraint, we chose to pass two excellent locations: Mount Cook, and Milford Sound. Next Time.

The drive from Lake Tekapo involved heading south around Lake Pukaki, most spectacular. Another interesting mountain pass called Lindis, south again to a called called Wanaka, on the lake of the same name. The drive along Lake Hawea and Lake Wanaka proved harrowing, at times. On one occasion, I climbed for almost a mile, straight up. Near the top of the hill, I could see nothing ahead. The view over the brow was spectacular: straight down another mile to the lake. (Always a little prayer here that the brakes will not fail.) We neared Mount Brewster when we approached Haast, on the West Coast. Mount Brewster is 2 423 metres above sea level. Naturally, we climbed and descended similar amounts all day long. Such is the topography of the South Island.

We camped near the village of Haast, near the beach on the Tasman Sea. Not swimmable, but fascinating. The beach is rarely cleared of debris, and there were thousands of enormous pieces of driftwood. There was also a mysterious pirate's cave, which we avoided. The beach was five miles long, perhaps three hundred yards wide. We were the only people on the beach. Remember, the summer is over. Winter is almost here!

The morning was again frosty, but I was reminded by a local fisherman that there was a front moving in.

The drive up the coast was again tricky, but awesome. On one occasion, we travelled close to the Sea. There were many vehicles at the side of the road. People were photographing huge pieces of driftwood, some decorated in most demonic ways. There were also many stone piles with the pieces of driftwood, perhaps for almost a kilometre. A little creepy, I assure you.

We dipsy doodled past Mt. Cook (3 754 metres) and Mt. Tasman (3 498) up the coast. We neared the Fox Glacier when the fuel light went on. I had earlier promised myself that I would not let that happen again. I now know that for certain. At $ 2.09(NZ) per litre, the van took in $113 in fuel. Next time: small car and diesel, which is almost half the price.

The Fox Glacier was well worth the four kilometre side trip. It has recessed significantly over the years, but still is an awesome sight, and the path reaches the mouth of the glacier. The walls created by the glacier's recession are likely 300 feet high. Quite a canyon. The Franz Josef Glacier is also remarkable; however, the walk is much longer for a decent look.

For the first night since we rented the van, I talked Joanne into taking a motel room, the Scenic in Franz Josef. An excellent decision, I am sure at this moment.

Off again in the morning. Up the west coast, through Hokitika to Greymouth. Always an adventure. No wonder they filmed most of the Lord of the Rings and Avatar here. Later.

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