The South Island and Franz Josef
Trip Start Jan 23, 2012
49Trip End Jun 09, 2012
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
We arrived in Picton at roughly midday, and after a stop at a local winery (where we had to do some tasting, of course, as it's the Marlborough region), the bus took us directly to our stop for the night, Kaiteriteri. Apart from the very moody reception lady at the Kaiteri lodge, there isn't much to report - because after a spot of dinner and a good chat with a few of our bus members, we went straight to bed.
The next morning, we took advantage of the beautiful warm weather to go for a stroll around the local beach with a few of our bus mates. This particular town is part of the Abel Tasman National Park, meaning pretty much every view you get is a stunning one, so we took a million and one photos on the way!
We departed at around midday, this time bound for Westport - and arrived at around 7pm. Westport is a mining and brewery town, meaning the population is 80% male. You couldn't tell from where we were, because there was hardly a soul about - and after a couple of walks up and down the main street (which is pretty much the whole of Westport), we popped into the local bar to take part in a killer pool tournament with the rest of the bus.
The following day, we headed further south, along the west coast, with several stops on the way. Particular highlights included the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes, which really gave us an appreciation for the power of the Tasman sea. We also went for a stroll on Cape Foulwind, and the name didn't disappoint - we were bruised and battered by the high winds and driving rain - however, seeing a local seal colony made up for the poor weather.
That night, we stayed in Lake Mahinapua, at a "hotel" (more caravan park with bunk beds) run by 86-year-old Les. Despite his abrasive mood, he put on a fantasic $5 steak night on, and the whole bus had a cracking fancy dress night in his pub, drinking way into the wee small hours.
The following day, we headed to the Franz Josef township. There's really not a huge amount in the town itself, seeing as it only has six streets, but seeing as it's situated right on the Franz Josef glacier, the fastest moving glacier in the world, it's always been a popular tourist stop.
The following day, we headed to our glacier tour centre, where we'd booked ourselves a helicopter trip and hike on the glacier itself. We arrived in good time, and after our safety briefing, were kitted out top to toe in ice hiking gear. We then walked to the helipad with our guide Remy, only to be told that due to high winds up on the glacier, the tour was off. We were gutted! Not wanting to miss an opportunity with a free day, we booked ourselves back in for the next morning, and cooked up a storm using the free hostel barbecue with Mike and Liz from the bus.
The following day didn't disappoint
Our group of eight were split across two helicopters, and we took the second. We landed about halfway up the glacier, and with our tour guide Ben, spent the next three hours walking, climbing, and sliding around on the glacier, and through tiny alleyways and tunnels underneath the ice's surface. Absolutely stunning, and well worth every penny. Our guide also told us about the local geology and weather systems, and explained why the glacier is still growing, and still so fast-moving. Real fun, and all too soon, our time on the glacier was up. The journey back didn't disappoint, as we obviously had another helicopter ride back down, which offered fantastic views across the glacier and Franz Josef township. What a day!
The rest of the day was spent on the bus, and seven hours later, we arrived at our next stop, Wanaka. Again, we can't say too much about the place, as we had a spot of dinner and went straight to bed!