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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

New Zealand Part 4 (Haast and Glacier Country)

With just over half of our holiday over we left Queenstown and we were off adventuring up the west coast of the south island. Next stop, Haast for the night.

There were crazy twisty roads leading us through and around the mountains that put our stock of travel calm to the test but also gave us some amazing waterfall views. Many parts of the road along the way have a tendency to wash out regularly taking people and cars with them, and from the huge waterfalls and fallen rock we saw all along the edge of the road I can believe it.

From Haast it was just a short drive through the mountains to glacier country. The closer we got the bluer the water got.

First though we had to cross a crazy bridge over the Haast River. As it's only one lane wide and it's too long to see the other side, there are 3 stopping bays along the way.

Next came Bruce Bay where we initially stopped because it looked like another lovely beach to sink our toes into, and discovered a fun way to leave our mark. There are heaps of these soft smooth white rocks that wash up all over the beach and people write their names on them and leave them behind.

Hannah took up the task of finding the perfect rock, writing out McEwen Family Exchange 2016 and had us all sign it before adding it to the pile.

Next stop Glacier country. Fox Glacier is 13 km long and is one of the fasted retreating glaciers in New Zealand. This also makes it quite unpredictable. In 2009 two obviously very intelligent tourists walked past the barriers to get closer to the terminal face for a better picture. 100 tonnes of ice calved of the terminal face and buried them. Seems like an example of Darwinism at it best to me!

We walked up as close as the barriers would allow us. My pictures are taken from a safe and approved distance and they look just fine to me!

We continued on up the road to Franz Josef Glacier, our home for the next 2 nights.

We lucked into another sunny warm day, so after some local kiwi viewing (the bird not the people), it was 4 o'clock and happy hour!

We got a bit of a late start the next morning, but when we did emerge from the clown camper we were treated to 18 degrees and blue skies.

It was a much larger trek into Franz Josef Glacier, so we took advantage of a guided hike which also offered free admission to the glacier hot springs afterwards. Sold! 

We were worried the kids would be bored by a 4 hour hike, but yet again they surprised us and had an amazing time!

Tyler was absolutely mesmerised by our adorable 20-something guide and followed him everywhere. Literally everywhere. Couldn't have shook him off if he wanted to! Luckily the guy was great with kids and took him under his wing during the tour telling him funny stories, letting him climb trees and rocks and helping him find quartz amongst the other rocks.

We made our way up towards the 12 km long glacier learning about the different types of rocks, the landscape, how quickly the glacier changes some history of the area from our quirky and cute guide.

What else can I say, it was another wonderful blue sunny day in the mountains. It was awesome. But even more awesome? A couple of hours in the glacier hot springs. Best end to a day ever!

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