Ice, Ice Baby

Saturday, December 7, 2013

My 60 hour InterCity Flexipass was definitely a wise investment. It is a transferrable bus pass valid for 12 months that deducts hours depending on how long you travel from one destination to another. For $450 NZ, it is the most cost effective way to see all of New Zealand’s glory. And the service rocks, too. The drive from Wanaka to Fox Glacier via the Haast Pass was one of the most scenic I have ever seen. Our bus driver told us a lot about the area, stopped for a number of photo ops, took us to a salmon farm for our lunch break and even allowed for a quick walk to a nearby waterfall.

The weather was overcast and rainy when we arrived to Fox Glacier Friday afternoon, so we voted for an extended happy hour at Cook Saddle, then Emily treated me to a crispy dinner surprise of linguine with black sundried tomatoes, crunchy salami and a dash of edible feta cheese. We later headed back to the same bar and finished off the night with a short nearby tramp to spot our first glowworms. In the rain.

When we woke this morning, the weather was just as depressing and the weather wasn’t scheduled to clear for another few days. In a town where visitors only come to see the Fox Glacier, this was certainly less than ideal. There is literally nothing to do here except see the glacier and try to get a good look at Lake Matheson. So since the rain didn’t show any signs of stopping, we decided to cut our losses and indulge in a $42 case of 24 Speight’s. (Yes, alcohol really is that expensive here.)

The second we got back from the store, the skies cleared a bit so we ventured out to see how far we could get before the bottom fell out again. We started down the Minnehaha Walk which reminded me of a tropical rainforest. We then took the River Walk where we got to cross our first suspension foot bridge. The river water below looked murky and clouded, not blue and clear like I expected glacier water to be. We continued down the path which led to a view point of the glacier, and it looked like a frozen waterfall lodged between two mountains. The Chalet Lookout Walk sounded interesting, so we set off, but had to turn back because of a flooded path. On our trek back to the village, it started to rain and Emily turned to me and said “It’s hailing!” Come to think of it, the rain started to hurt and tiny pellets of ice bounced off the pavement. It was almost like the glacier was chucking little pieces of itself at us. Luckily, we found a kind traveling couple who offered us a lift back to our place, and we spent the rest of the day warm and dry hanging out at our hostel.

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