A mirrored lake and rare steak

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
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Trip End Feb 26, 2011


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Where I stayed
At a piece of council land 10 minutes from the lake with lots of Gypsies

Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Tuesday, October 26, 2010

We woke up with the sound of the sea rather than the sound of the wind and rain. It was a lovely clear and still morning so we decided to head to Lake Matheson straight away and get our first walk of the day done before breako. It was probably only about 20 minutes until we reached the lake edge and maybe about 7:45 in the morning, two other people were there and I was shocked to hear "hello strangers" it was the couple from Manchester we did the Glacier with the day before. Anyway I suppose the early bird does sometimes catch the worm as the lake was stunning. It was like a mirror and you could almost see a perfect reflection of the view in the lake.

After a while we walked back to the van and decided we would actually walk to Fox glacier before our morning coffee and breako fest. The walk to Fox probably took about 30 minutes and was full of loud chattering Chinese people who quite frankly seemed to be bonkers, but it was great to see all the Chinese poses and “v” signs with the fingers.

It was really interesting to see the huge difference between Fox and Franz Josef, the valley has been almost sheared by the glacier. Also I think it is crazy that Fox and Franz Josef are only the 4th and 5th biggest glaciers in New Zealand, but are easily the two most visited. Apparently it is down to the ease of access and speed they move at therefore making them the most interesting to get in and amongst.

Anyway enough of that, it was dead interesting and reminded us of a superman movie a little bit. Last thing, you have to see the amount that Fox has retreated since the industrial revolution, it is incredible, perhaps we won't have glaciers for too much longer. Also incredible is that Fox glacier in particular can move up to 8m per day, it’s just amazing, but then again I am boring and like I say that is enough of that.

I cooked up some egg butbuts in the car park to have with our coffees then we set off to drive more of the absolutely stunning west coast. We drove down the coast that is regularly voted in the top 10 coastal drives in the world and compares with the Big Sur in California another of our previous jaunts. You can’t really say much more it is a beautiful coastal drive. We did stop at a place called Monro beach where there are some colonies of penguins. The walk to the beach was about 40 minutes each way through rain forest. The weather was glorious and therefore perhaps predictably the sand flies and pollen were out in force, the beach though was beautiful and almost deserted just a brief spell with two strangers who told us we were pretty much stupid looking for penguins at 15:00 as it was too early. So we had about an hour on the beach and predictably we saw nothing and felt it had to be time to get moving to make our camp in Lake Wanaka. One last stop at Knights point where the view again was stunning and we could see seals down on the shoreline from our elevated position.

The rest of the scenery was quite simply stunning, you do stop every few minutes it seems to look at waterfalls, snowy mountains, incredible lakes etc. The colour of some of the water was great and the glacier waters mean it is so clear. After days and days without a shower we were both starting to smell revolting and only a weak odour of wet wipes left. I decided we would try and get a powered site, we pulled into a family parks our old favourite and with Erica telling me the site wasn’t even on the leaflet (and it had also expired) I tried my luck with another buy one get one free. I started with the cheery nice approach but the lady said she had never heard of the voucher and wanted about 20 for an unpowered site, we had a stand off as I kept saying “your choice have 20 and we will stay for two nights using no amenities (i.e. paying for our own showers etc) or have no money, the lady continued to shrug her shoulders saying the price was the price, and I kept giving her more opportunities saying I would have to go to the DOC site only 5 minutes away, we even offered to hire mountain bikes off her but she wasn’t budging, so we had to move on and try our luck somewhere else. Indeed we found a nice site in Wanaka itself (I think Rorie and Emer might have stayed here as it was right in town and they seem to have been able to go out much more than us). Again a few compliments to the lady on the desk, a flutter of the eyelids and I was asking for a special deal trying a 2 for 1 or special discount the woman just kept shrugging telling me it was $22 (11) a night per person or something. Sometimes (and in NZ I think sometimes may be too much) we are too honest, I told the lady there were two of us, I keep telling Erica to hide under the duvet when we approach campsites and then we get our 2 for 1 in a devious and underhand way. Anyway again we had to leave.

We went down to the lake front to have a gorgeous sunny evening with a flat calm lake and snowy peaks above the lake. It was stunning and the lake front bars seemed to be all abuzz with life and the town was just lovely. A little bit like a modern lake district town. We eventually had to retire to a piece of council owned land with lots of 'permanent residents’ i.e. travelling folk as they are now called or gypsies to the old school. We spoke to a few who said they never pay and it just isn’t a problem. Tonight I suggested that the woman cooks for a change so I sat back and drank white wine eating bargain Spanish olives while she cooked some special offer steak (we obviously had one steak between us) and pasta, it was beautiful. I finished it off with red wine then ate some blue cheese that had been sat in esky water and was very very very blue, i.e. completely discoloured. I think I need to cook again as otherwise I just sit there drinking.
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