Glacier Walking and Lake Matheson

Trip Start Nov 05, 2002
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Trip End Aug 13, 2003


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Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Hello again!

Leaving Lake Wanaka we drove towards Haast and arrived on the West coast. Driving on we arrived that that evening in the little village of Fox Glacier, right in the middle of the south Island. The village is named after the nearby glacier which is firmly on the tourist trail as a popular glacier walk destination. The other famous glacier in the region is the more popular Franz Joseph glacier, further up the coast.
It was pissing rain that evening and didn't stop the next day, putting our glacier walk plans on hold for 24 hours. But the next day was fine and so we were up nice and early ready for our all-day hike. The glacier is a massive river of ice 12km long, 2km wide in places and 800m deep at it's deepest point. It is moving down the valley it's residing in at a speed of approx 2m a day. It was great fitting crampons on our boots and walking on what is effetely a huge moving block of ice. Some of the massive ice over-hangs and ice walls were amazing as were the colours of the ice. Cold though! It was a very enjoyable experience and our guide, Rich, was excellent.

When we got down off the ice there were a few hours of light left so we headed to the nearby Lake Matheson, just 10km from the Fox village on the Gillispies beach road. A jewel in the crown of New Zealand scenic wonders, the magnificent lake Matheson is famous for its reflections of New Zealand's highest peaks Mount Cook and Mount Tasman. The tiny lake is well protected from the wind meaning the waters are often incredibly still and they reflect the colour of the mountains so that in your photograph it's difficult to tell the mountains from the reflection of the mountains. Well, that's what we had read beforehand and that's exactly how it was! Gorgeous. The view is best at sunrise and sunset and we were lucky enough to get a decent sunset that evening.

After all that we drove up the coast last night to the other glacier town, Franz Joseph, probably the more famous, and certainly the busier, of the two glaciers. Today we did a walk to the Franz Joseph lookout which is perched at a point overlooking the immense valley the glacier once carved out of the mountain. Recent melting has meant the glacier face presently sits someway up the valley but the excellent displays at the lookout showing the location of the glacier face within the valley at various times throughout the past few centuries was very revealing. Super stuff!

Later today we intend to continue up the coast. We will be reporting in the coming days. Stay tuned!

Dace and B
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