Fox and Franz Joseph Glacier

January 15, 2016

So it begins, I am going to take this rare opportunity of being in the same place for 10 days and try to write and post as much as I can about the South Island Road Trip. It started in late November and has ran its way from the South to the North where I am (back in) Napier to work a week and a half before continuing onwards. Now, let’s just hop we find some work on Monday.

Alright, I hope everyone is doing well – So, before this part of the trip in New Zealand, I was in Queenstown living for about 6 months. That is where I worked at Coronet Peak at the ski field on the lifts. After about 6 months, I left Queenstown and went to Dunedin, Catlins National Park, Milford Sound and finally back to Queenstown for one night before continuing forward. I posted some pics of this back in November, but this is where I left off so I’ll pick up there. Opposed to posting 250 photos at once of the entire trip, I will cut up the trip into about 7-8 blog posts with photos relevant to each post! I will post them on here because I know people get lazy when it comes to clicking a link J – but I will also post them on my blog – www.ontheloosejuice.com

Leaving Queenstown from the second time was the final “goodbye.” The first time I left, less than a week prior, I knew it wasn’t the real goodbye because I would have one night left in Queenstown.. I would see my friends, and most importantly, Andy, one more time before I went on. The last night in Queenstown was real nice. Andy and I had a big meal and then went to the Ice Bar (bar made out of ice) for a couple drinks before heading home. The next day, Brittany and I said our goodbyes to everyone and finally hit the road. I’ll never forget the feeling of driving down the road with Queenstown behind me, getting further and further each moment. What the hell was going to happen now? Where will we go? Who will I meet? Well, at that point you are as free as you’re about to ever be. The road is yours. Take out a map. Choose a place. Go.

There are three routes from the bottom to top of the South Island. There is a road on the west, east and center. The route on the East is the less scenic of the three so automatically that was a “Nope.” The central route is nice too, but luckily I saw it already with various weekend trips to Mount Cook, Lake Pukaki and Lake Tekapo. The West is supposed to be the most epic, filled with landscapes resembling Lord of the Rings or Jurassic Park. Therefore, it was an easy choice to go there.

The first stop after Queenstown was Wanaka, a small town I had seen a couple times up until now. We paid the mandatory visit to “That Wanaka Tree” and headed onward via Haast Pass. This is when the real landscapes started to kick in. I really can’t describe the rugged, jagged faces of mountains towering higher than I can comprehend. Unfortunately, it was cloudy and raining so we couldn’t see the tops of some, as they were too high in the sky. The clouds did make for an eerie mood. It had a real unique vibe with the clouds and the rain. I really did expect a pterodactyl or Froto Baggins to come out at any time.

After we finally got over the pass we made it to the coast! It was nice to finally see the ocean after 6 months in New Zealand. When we got to the coast the rain and wind had really picked up. You couldn’t really do anything outside for too long and the forecast showed no sunshine anytime soon. Therefore, unfortunately, the West Coast was kind of rushed and completed in about two days time. The rain was relentless and wind unbearable. The worst part about the West Coast was the sandflies. I mentioned these before, but they’re the worst thing known to man. I never thought I would meet something I despised more than a mosquito.. and then I met the sandfly! Their bites are brutal. One morning we accidentally left the front of the tent open and by the time we noticed and shut it there were over 300+ sandflies inside the tent? It was raining at this point so we decided to just take down the tent and worry about it later. It was still raining that night so when we put up the wet tent, dead (and some alive) sandflies were still trapped inside. It definitely wasn’t one of the fondest moments but made for a great story because, hell, we’re still alive.

Besides our initial bad luck with weather and sandflies, the West Coast itself was beautiful. The West Coast is home of the largest glaciers in New Zealand. We were able to visit two, the Fox Glacier and Franz Josef! When we arrived at the Fox Glacier, it really started to rain. We wanted to do the walk to the base of the glacier, but decided to continue 45-60 minutes up the coast to the supposedly more impressionable Franz Josef Glacier. We did the “look out” at the Fox Glacier but couldn’t see much. When we got to Franz Josef, the rain stopped temporarily for the first part of our hike to the base. What we saw on this hike was incredible.

In short, these glaciers are melting. They have been melting for decades and they’re diminishing quicker and quicker as time goes on. In the near future, they won’t even exist. It’s sad, but most likely true. At Franz Josef, we parked the car and started the hour and a half round trip to the glacier base. As we walked towards the glacier, I noticed we were walking in a gigantic bowl shaped valley where the glacier used to be before it melted. The valley was covered with rocks deposited by the glacier as it tore its way through the hillside years ago. The rocks increased in size as we made our way to the glacier. After a short hike through this valley, we finally reached the base of the glacier. The glacier is rested in the valley of two mountains. It’s massive. Unfortunately, the rain started again just as we reached it, so most of my photos were mental photos as the ones with my camera came out quite bad. It was a real treat to see such a unique part of the world as this. I am not sure I have ever seen a proper glacier before. Let’s just hope they remain for our future generations to enjoy as well.

The Glaciers and the first part of the West Coast were good, but not properly explored due to the weather – Luckily, as we continued North, the weather began to work in our favor and the sun began to shine. We reached beaches, got sunburns, ran into friends, partied, worked, etc. But that’s for another day and time. This is just the beginning of what was yet to come!

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Reflections

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OK – so this pic is pretty embarassing – I had just woke up and went to take some photos of the moody lake. I set my camera up on a 10 second timer and posted it up on the tripod. I wanted to get to that final rock for a little old harmless selfie but I didn’t get there in time.. Not only did I not get there but right after this photo I lost my balance and fell into the lake! haha! My shoes and pants were soaked. Not my finest moment!

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The trail of people walking down the path towards toe base of the Fox Glacier – We didn’t do this hike as it was raining quite hard at this point.

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The crappy view point of the Fox Glacier – That big white thing is the glacier sitting between two moutnains!

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You can see here this valley which is where the glacier used to be before it melted – We are en route to the glacier bas

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Reaching the base of Franz Josef as the rain starts to pour

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Yep – this is what I meant by the mental photos – The light jus wasnt working out in our favor, not to mention the rain – So here is my attempt of shooting the glacier itself.

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Damn this photo could have been so good if my fly wasn’t down!! #FAIL!!!!!

 

 

Mercury Bay @ Simpson Beach

January 14, 2016
It was supposed to be sunny today. 😩 Still not a bad view to wake up to. Last night we came back to Mercury Bay in the Coromandel Peninsula. We stayed here a couple nights ago as well. The woman whose yard were staying on (yep) is a legend. Basically, there is an app called “Camper Mate” which lets you know where campsites are nearby and their applicable fees. A typical site is $7-10 per person, per night.. However, we found one for $5. (Every dollar saved means longer of traveling and not having to work.. It adds up. Now, if I could remind myself that every time I want to go to the beer store, I could travel forever, haha). When we arrived it turns out it’s simply an old ladies house who lets travellers stay on her beach front lawn but requests we use to public toilets nearby (which is completely understandable). When we arrived she gave us a long winded history of the land and made us feel really welcomed. It turns out the counsel really doesn’t like her doing this and wants to shut her down. Therefore, we have to do little things like not hand over the money in public, be discrete when disposing our trash in the public trash cans, etc. 😂 As mentioned, we stayed here a couple nights ago and when we came back last night she was full and couldn’t take us in. She didn’t want to turn us away so her and her #mate took it upon themselves to try to find us a hostel which all proved to be full as well. Therefore, they let us post up on their neighbors lawn for the evening! Last night, we sipped beers, sat on that wooden section below, watched the stars and had great convo. It was a wonderful night. Before bed, the woman came to tell us goodnight and brought us a bucket to aid us in washing our dishes. The simple little selfless things Kiwis repeatedly do for us makes me love this country more and more everyday. They’re amazing. Now, of course waking up to this weather isn’t ideal but it comes with the territory. The waves to sound pretty awesome though. Maybe we’ll head back South today. Who knows.

Just for Fun

January 9, 2016
Since my laptop isn’t really accessible while camping, my photos have sat dormant for almost two months now. I want to share them so bad but will have to wait. I needed some sort of outlet in the meantime..

   
    
   

Overnight Hike to Hot Water Beach

January 9, 2016
Helllllloooo! We just finished an overnight hike to Hot Water Beach via Tarawera Trail here outside in Rotorua. It was a 62km (~38mi) round trip hike with everything we needed on our backs: tent, sleeping bag, water, clothes and food. I embarrassingly never have done an overnight hike before and needles to say, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Hot Water Beach itself was an interesting experience. Basically, it was a lakefront campsite where the beach had these few streams of boiling water making its way from the land towards the lake itself.. Therefore, it created warm pockets in the lake near these few tiny streams of boiling water. As I went to meet my friends in the lake, I accidentally stood in one of the streams. 😁🔥 l wasn’t the only one to burn their feet, we saw others accidentally stand in them too. The pockets of warm, OK boiling, water with cold was a strange experience. I’ve never been to cold (lake water) and hot (thermal water) at the same time in my life. At one point my foot felt like it was on fire while my back was shivering cold. The rocks you sat on would suddenly grow hot and burn your ass.. but then again it’s cold at the same time. 😳 It’s confusing. Then today during the walk back it rained and rained. It was quite pleasant actually hiking in the rain but when we got to the car and it started really pouring. Everything in the car got wet so we will have to dry that out whenever it’s sunny next. We treated ourselves to some dinner (& beers) and went to Kerosene Creek, a hot thermal stream, to soothe our muscles.. It’s been raining ever since but when I just went to brush my teeth, the clouds were parting and the Milky Way was making an appearance.. Let’s hope for some dryer days tomorrow. 🙏

Hope everyone’s well, thinking of my TX/CO #mates lately. Miss you fools.✌️ 

 

Champagne Pools @ Thermal Wonderland

January 6, 2015
Couldn’t wait for the high res image to share so here’s an iPhone snap of Champagne Pools in Rotorua. The smell of Sulfur is abundant and these thermal pools reach a temperature of 100C. This morning we went to Hot/Cold Pools where one river is steaming hot and meets a cold river. You can move around until you find your “ideal” temp. Rotorua is pretty awesome..