We continued to explore the West Coast of the South Island, by driving from Queenstown to Franz Josef Glacier.
We have already used up all of the superlatives in the dictionary, describing this amazing land, but we really wish we had some more to draw upon.
The drive itself (about 5 hours) has to be one of the most scenic routes in the World. That’s quite a claim, but we went through so many different landscapes it was hard to believe. We started off through lakelands, mountains, then sea shore and tropical forest, before arriving at the Glacier. It was extraordinary.
As the weather was not with us, you’ll have to take my word for it, for the most part. Here’s the Arrowtown, a historic town near Queenstown and one of the beaches on our way to Franz Josef.
We also spotted some of the rarer native birds in their habitats. The first is the NZ wood pigeon, the Kereru which is about three times the size of our native birds. Honestly, it was a wonder the branch could hold these two up!
The other cheeky chappy, just walking around the car park is the Kaka, a member of the parrot family. He seemed completely unfazed by the traffic and the people. Many of the cafe’s nearby have signs saying keep an eye on your food as there will be no replacements if a Kaka steals it. Sounds very like the Seagulls on Brighton Beach.
At the end of our 5 hour trip, we arrived at Franz Josef Glacier. This was a most extraordinary sight, and one that the pictures cannot really convey. It is like a frozen waterfall coming over the top of the mountain. It’s the cold mountain air and the warm air from the sea meeting on the mountain face that creates this effect. The perpetual glacier has probably had a presence for thousands of years, but the glacial face has receded at least 30 metres over the last 150 years. An impact of global warning? We simply do not know.
We continued our journey through Arthur’s Pass the following day which took us back to Christchurch airport. It is an epic journey and we are so pleased that we got to enjoy the mountain views.
Next adventures will be on the North Island.