I’m back to my 3-month trip recap after posting a couple recipes over the weekend. It occurred that some of you may not be familiar with New Zealand’s geography, so here’s a map to help you out.
As I wrote about earlier this week, our New Zealand adventure started on the South Island, in Queenstown. Today’s post will cover our drive over to Franz Josef glacier. Tomorrow, I’ll reminisce over our drive down to Christchurch, where we dumped our rental car and took a train over to Picton, and a ferry to Wellington, in the North island.
From Queenstown, we headed east towards glacier country. The drive was spectacular. We passed through so many picturesque landscapes, such as this lush valley.
Just past Arrowtown, we stopped at a road-side stand and I picked up the most amazing cherries and apricots, which formed the basis of my lunch that day.
Later on, we stopped and took-in the beauty of one of Te Wahipounamu’s lookout points. It’s a stunning UNESCO World Heritage area that includes everything from lush tropical jungles, to snow-capped mountains.
The scenery changes every 5 minutes in New Zealand, and views like this one are not uncommon.
As we worked our way into the mountains, we spotted prehistoric-looking sceneries, like this. In this instance, the ocean was to the left, and it lead into this turquoise-colored river flanked by gleaming white pebbles.
After a day of driving, we arrived at our little motor lodge in Franz Josef. From our back porch, we could see the mist forming over the mountains in the distance.
For dinner, we ate at the Blue Ice restaurant. I had a salad and a pasta dish which was quite good.
Despite the rain the next day, we decided to go ahead and do a hike around Lake Matheson. Before setting off, we grabbed a couple coffees to warm ourselves up. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Aussies and Kiwis sure make good coffee! Here’s a shot of the soy latte I enjoyed while peering out at the lovely view.
I collected coins during our entire trip, but I think my favorite coin of all is the New Zealand 10 cent coin, featuring a Maori koruru, or carved head.
While there was a bit of misty rain throughout the day, we were protected by the trees and plants, and we had the entire park to ourselves to explore and take photos. The trees and plants were so big, they felt prehistoric!
There were ferns EVERYWHERE. No wonder they’re one of New Zealand’s national symbols. I got a bit carried away taking photos of them curling every which way, so I won’t bore you with all of them, but here are a couple to give you an idea…
During one part of the hike, a huge wall of ferns was to our left, while giant palm-like plants grew out of the lake to our right. We felt tiny!
More giant plants…
On a clear day, you can see a mirror-image of Mount Cook and Mount Tasman… Do a Google Search of Lake Matheson to see what I mean… stunning!
Bye, Lake Matheson, thanks for a lovely day!
At the suggestion of a few friends, we booked ourselves into a helicopter-hike of Franz Josef glacier the next day. You can see the beginning of the glacier at the top of the mountain.
As we suited-up and about to board the chopper, the wind picked-up and the trip was called-off. You can see how the clouds in the distance had gone dark.
While we were a bit disappointed, we were also secretly happy because we’re both really terrified of helicopters! Rather than wait until the next day for better weather, we decided to hit the road. That will be detailed in my next post, where we’ll make our way down the island to Christchurch!