Tag Archives: glacier

Tracy in the sky

The time in Franz Josef was good – a bit of a chill-out time, hanging out with the ‘gang’. That horse trek never happened, though, a casualty of the difficulties in trying to coordinate a number of people’s schedules. J and I explored the local area and attempted to swim in the sea, which was hit us with stones, and in Okarito lagoon, which was surprisingly chilly. Found other forms of outdoor recreation, then returned to the village to arrange an overnight stay outside the accommodation where our friends were staying. The woman in the public bar said they were happy for us to park up and pay a fiver for a couple showers. That was until the next morning when, having just thrown open the camper van doors to get some life affirming cool air, we heard the crunching of gravel and were accosted by a man claiming that the owner didn’t want us there and it was lucky he was away or he’d be towing us away. Seems you just can’t win sometimes. But we were able to depart unscathed.

We decided to go have a look at Fox glacier. So here it is.

Carried on, following another of those lovely twisting roads, stopping off at a salmon farm/cafe for lunch and coffee. They did some tasty smoked salmon there. Through Mt Aspiring National Park, past beautiful waterfalls,

and Lakes Hawea and Wanaka, finally arriving at Lake Hawea village to stay for the night. Was hot, hot, hot well into the evening. Did some laundry (ooh) and cooked some dinner (aah), and later on went for a walk. It was very, very quiet where we were (gosh, it was quiet) and there were many, many stars to be seen. I can now find the Southern Cross very easily – those pointer stars do what they’re meant to. Go stargazer Trace.

Next morning it was a short drive into Wanaka, a chilled out lakeside town. We did the fuel, groceries, ice for the cooler routine, then paid a visit to Puzzling World. Very good fun those illusion rooms. You can create your own illusions too, if you are as clever as I am (ha ha) and also get totally caught up in the devilish puzzles they leave out in the cafe area (and not get at all frustrated when you can’t solve them, if you are as clever as I am, uh ha ha).

Next we came across some tennis courts and as for some reason we’d challenged each other to a game of tennis we needed to finally stop and do it, before time was up. My injuries and the amazing heat kept me from being the amazing player I normally am (ahem) though someone else claimed that it was also down to the superior upper body strength of one of the contenders. Well, I took on a trucker at sport and lost, but it is time I shared with my readers one of my great sources of pride on this trip. Kramer has muscles! Sorry I have no posing picture to share, but trust me, a combo of lugging things around and doing things like kayaking have given me muscles that even the sarcastic trucker admires.

Another highlight of my travels has been good fresh fruit, often procured from side of the road stalls (e.g. big fat cherries in Wanaka, yum).

But what you really want to hear about is how I came to be in the sky. Well of course I did that tandem paraglide mentioned before, flying from Coronet Peak near Queenstown. Here I am getting ready to go…

Here’s a shot from the flight with my lovely pilot from Brighton…

and here we are coming in for our landing (which followed some wonderously fun spins in the air, but unfortunately those bits didn’t get captured on the video):

I have some other videos (filmed by the trucker) that I will try to add at another time. For now, all I can say is when can I do it again?!! Ace.

Law and order in the Wild West

Friday we departed Marahau and started making our way towards the west coast. Stopped off for one our roadside lunchbreaks, hiked down near a river with plates in hands and were met by a couple of tethered goats who eyed up our sandwiches. Later stopped for ice cream with real fruit (I had boysenberry) from a quiet little place called Motupiko. Really felt off the beaten track as we travelled along. Really nice. Stopped to make dinner later and were attacked by the evil sandflies so had to retreat inside the van to eat. Then did a bit of a ‘skyline walk’ which gave great views of the four rivers plain on which the town of Murchison is built (the rivers Matakitaki, Matiri, Buller and Mangles – there will be a quiz later).

Then we continued our scenic drive through Buller Gorge, and on to Westport to camp for the night…

In Westport we located a holiday camp, went up to the office and found it closed. Now, there was a phone there that one could use to contact the management…however J suggested we park outside and just use the showers. I went along with this, then later emerged from said shower to find J waiting for me. How courteous? Well, actually he’d been sent to retrieve his friend from the shower by the irate owner who’d discovered our van outside the camp, and had been letting down the tires in the shadows when J had returned to the van. In short, we’d been busted. I learned later that the guy had used some choice words (or certain choice words over and over) until he’d cooled down a bit. At any rate, he wasn’t happy. We gave him some cash and departed. He said he’d be giving out our vehicle registration to every campsite in NZ, which makes us chuckle everytime we tell the tale. J was contrite that evening, but we later came to the conclusion that these “Top 10” type sites are a rip-off. Evidence, our campsite the next night, a family run affair: just as clean, comfortable (and one might say friendlier…) and at least half the cost of the fancy chain one.

The next morning we had to top up the low tire at a petrol station, then we made our way to a park with public toilets. J was just pulling up to the kerb when the cleaner promptly informed him he had performed an illegal move. “In New Zealand we don’t park in the direction opposite to traffic. What country are you from?” England being the response, a discussion of the nuances in traffic laws followed. Meanwhile, I was in the back of the van quite ready to use the loo, if only I could escape without a further lecture ensuing on the use of safety belts or some such thing. I sat quietly and listened. Oh dear, the friendly banter had turned to politics, the EU and the punishment of unruly children. Really, all this? Before 8am? Eventually, the cleaner had to move on, job to do, and ablutions were able to be performed. The loo had an automatic toilet paper dispenser that tried my patience, but aside from that things seemed ok now. I hoped we’d steer clear of further correction for at least a day.

We departed to visit the seal colony at Cape Foulwind (nice name). It was a beautiful morning for it. Continued on to Charleston, where we took a longer walk with further views of gorgeous seascapes. A reminder of how far from home(s) I am:

Noodles for lunch, then Punakaiki for the Pancake Rocks and blowholes (much more touristy here, but again quite stunning scenery).

Am in glacier country now….via Hokitika, with its jade, its goldrush history, its view of the Southern
Alps in the distance, and its sand and driftwood sculpture competition.

And via Pukekura (pop 2, according to Lonely Planet) where one could, if one wanted to, visit the Puke Pub and eat road kill (“you kill ’em, we grill ’em”). Yes, if one wanted to. I instead recommend Lake Ianthe for a lunch stop – we made and ate toasted cheese sandwiches here, while sitting by the lake, looking at those Southern Alps, listening to the lapping of the water, the buzzing of flies and the sound of the occasional car passing along the main road.

So glaciers to be explored and all that. We met up with some of J’s friends he met on the North Island, who are now working/lurking round these parts. Had a few drinks with them in a bar just outside Franz Josef village. A really good group of people. We’re going on a horse trek with them later. I managed to injure my hip getting into the van yesterday so that will be interesting. (A stupid injury but really painful so stop sniggering at my misfortune – it’s not an unrelenting so called barrel of laughs and scenery here, you know. Honestly.)

"Unisex toilet" in Hokitika cafe
Sign in the men's
Update on this post since I last wrote (and the power went out just before the exciting moment at which Kramer hits the Publish button)… Last night a few of us went for a walk out to the terminal face of the Franz Josef glacier. It was cool and quiet, a welcome break from the heat (there has been much wilting by day, along with comparisons of our sandfly bites). And we were pretty much the only ones there. When we got back to the carpark we did meet some other creatures, we think they were Kea. Here are some photos so go to it, bird identifiers:
And here’s the glacier:
 Pretty, isn’t it?
Planning on doing a tandem paraglide, probably in Queenstown. Just trying to get it added to my insurance…
My other hobby is hunting the Southern Cross (aka Crux). Apparently there are two pointer stars that will tell me if I’ve found the correct cross.
But for now, time to publish and exit into the sunshine once again.