Sunday, March 28, 2010

Franz Josef Glacier/Fox Glacier

No update yesterday due to the lack of an internet connection and unwillingness on my part to go search one out. So you get two days worth of updates today.

While we were loading our cars up at the motel in Karamea, we had a very curious Weka bird to contend with. These are a native New Zealand bird about the size of a small chicken. He/she kept wanting to come into the rooms while we were carrying luggage out.

The drive from Karamea to Franz Josef was along to West coast for the most part. Some wiggly mountain roads enroute which added to the fun. It is hard to keep up with a Mazda Miata particularly when you get a slow car between you and no chance to pass.

The main stop we made on the way down was at Pancake rocks. We didn't know what to expect but what and interesting display of rocks. They appear to have been built up with a combination of hard and soft elements, so when the sea erodes them away it leaves the layers of rocks that look like stacks of pancakes. There was constant crashing of waves while we were there. An even tough it was cloudy, the view was really grand.

We arrived in Franz Josef yesterday evening and didn't do much else except eat. On the menu last night was filet, venison, and lamb. Yum!

This morning we went out the the Franz Josef glacier. A short walk took us to Peter Pool were we could see the glacier and a reflection of the glacier. In the Southern Alps are some 60 glaciers. Franz Josef and Fox are the most easily accessable and the only to you can get to from the west side of the mountains. These are active glaciers, and are actually advancing at the moment (most of the worlds glaciers are receding).

These glaciers are similar in some ways to the ones we saw a few years ago during our Alaska cruise. Of course instead of dropping directly into the sea, these are feeding rivers. The one think I noticed, is the lack of glacial noise. In Alaska, Hubbard glacier was constantly making loud booming noises as it shifted and cracked. At these I did not hear that at all.

From the Peter Pond we continued our walk down to a swinging bridge across the Waiho River. The color of the river water is gray. It is caused by glacial flour, or the finely groud rock that is contained in the glacier itself.

At Fox Glacier (23 km south) we were able to walk within a few hunderd meters of the face of the glacier. The path actually crosses dry parts of the river (which I suspect would not be dry during flood season) and crosseda few fording places where rocks were strategically placed.

It was a fun day. Tomorrow we are off to Alexandra, which if further south and I believe we will cross the southern 45th parallel tomorrow. In North America, it crosses just south of the Northern borders between South Dakota and North Dakota. If we see it marked we will have to get a picture of that.


  1. Great photos, Monty! And give your lovely wife a hug for sharing the blog with us.

  2. Thanks to Katie, I've found your trip journal. What a wonderful trip! The pictures are great.

  3. I do enjoy your blog. And, you have great pictures! My 2 favs today are the glacier, mountain, and lake one and your shadows in the river.

  4. Great Pictures both from the camera and in words. Nothing like the mountain roads in NZ huh! Imagine doing them in a tourist coach like we did!