From now on, I will be sharing my past travels as part of my Travel Throwback Thursday #TTBT series.
After our amazing time in Wanaka, it was time to experience my first glaciers. A few hours drive away, we were about ten minutes from Fox Glacier when we came to a stand-still on the road–for FOUR HOURS! New Zealand has few major roadways that are usually only one lane each way. After waiting roughly three hours in heavy rain, Kyle decided to put on his rain gear and walk to see what the holdup was.
The bad news: the road was washed out from all the rain.
The good news: A local farmer brought his heavy machinery and was working on repairing the road enough so cars could get through.
Rain, rain go away. . .
Lucky to be in a van, we passed a bunch of cars and attempted to cross the gushing stream that washed out the road. Fortunately, this part of the trip was as flexible as we wanted it to be without reservations, so we could take our time exploring.
Lake Matheson was nearby and is where glow worms can be seen at night. With it already being late, Fox Glacier would have to wait until the morning. Hiking with our headlamps and in the dark, we were able to see a few glow warms when turning off the headlamps. I am sure the hike is gorgeous no matter the time of day with its mossy covered trees and swamp-like terrain.
After the night walk to stretch our legs from being in the camper van for so long, it was time to find a camping spot at Gillespie Beach. Not being able to see much in the darkness, it did not take much time to find a campsite and go to bed.
A short walk from the beach, it was nice to wake up and take a stroll and listen to the waves crash again the shore. Mount Cook made its appearance in the far distance before the clouds rolled in to cover the highest peak in New Zealand.
Since I was being budget conscience, I decided to find alternative ways to explore the glaciers without paying for a tour. Fox Glacier has many lookout points, but the amount of rainfall from the last couple of days made logistics hard. I was a amazed by the various glacier colors and its milky water runoff.
Finding a hiking trail to get closer to the glacier, we crossed a footbridge. However, after the bridge, most of the trail was washed out with high water crossings. With a distant view of Fox Glacier, we bailed on the hike and went back to the van.
Fox Glacier was at the trailhead in 1750 and has now rescinded by carving a valley through the rolling green mountains.
Franz Joseph Glacier
Franz Joseph Glacier via the Franz Joseph Walk was a great opportunity to get close to a glacier. It was an easy hike that followed the glacier riverbed. I was happy to be wearing my Chacos for the water crossings, but MAN, was the water COLD. The walk lasted roughly 50 minutes before arriving at the base of the glacier. Seeing tours on the glacier made me slightly jealous as tourists strapped on crampons to walk and climb the ice.
Andy decided to pick up ice chucks and throw them at me before we headed back to the van to meet up with Danielle and Kyle. Franz Joseph Glacier was my favorite and seemed larger than Fox Glacier. The natural arch where the water was gushing from under the glacier was beautiful with deep blue and gray, ash lines.
It was still misting during our hike, but I am glad I spent the time to wade through the water to see the glacier up close. The rocks at the base of the glacier were polished with white lines running through them. The mixture of the stones, icebergs, and glacier made for excellent pictures and memories.
Both glaciers had an arch where the ground moraine formed and created braided rivers and outwash. Have you ever been to either of these glaciers? How did you explore them?
What glacier would you recommend seeing?
New Zealand Series:
- Two and a Half Weeks through New Zealand
- New Zealand: Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula
- New Zealand’s Milford Sound – A Photo Essay
- Trip Report: Kayaking the Doubtful Sound
- Queenstown – Trekking and Celebrating a New Year
- Wanaka – Tramping Rob Roy Peak and Glacier
- Touring the Fox and Franz Joseph Glaciers for Free
- South Island: Exploring New Zealand’s West Coast
- Things to Do in Nelson, New Zealand
- Mountain Biking above the Queen Charlotte Sound
- Connecting New Zealand Islands: Bluebridge Cook Strait Ferry
- Trip Report: Trekking Tongariro Alpine Crossing