Thursday, 29 October 2015

Glacier Country

I wasn't too excited about visiting the glaciers on the West Coast. I had spent a couple of days after leaving Punakaiki feeling a bit homesick; I was sad about missing autumn and I wanted somewhere I could just hibernate for a day, without any people around. I had also decided not to do an actual glacier hike, as they are quite expensive, so it really didn't seem like a very interesting prospect. I went anyway, though, as the two glaciers are just the kind of places you visit when you are on the West Coast.

Franz Josef Glacier

 After visiting the glaciers, I'm still not very impressed by the glaciers themselves. This is partly because they keep getting smaller, so the public can view less and less of them, without paying to actually get on them. And I guess it is partly just because I'm Norwegian, and I have seen glaciers before. But I loved the surrounding area. I only had one day in Franz Josef, and it was a grey and misty one. This is fairly typical, as it is located in a rainforest-area. Somehow it felt like this was how Franz Josef was meant to be experienced, adding a little touch of mystery.

Lake Matheson and Fox Glacier

For my day in Fox, I woke up to a blue sky. The weather definitely did this the right way round, as there are two main attractions around Fox village: the glacier and Lake Matheson. The woman at my hostel had said I could do both in one day, though I might want to take a shuttle to one of them. I started with the lake, and it was a perfect day for it. When it's still, Lake Matheson is known for offering a stunning reflection of Mt Cook. Chances are that if you've ever seen a postcard picture of New Zealand, it might very well have been taken here. I wasn't there early enough for the water to be quite still, but it's still a pretty good view.

As I walked back to the village, a Czech woman offered to take me. It turned out she was going to the glacier as well, so I came along with her. This turned out quite perfectly, as I would have ended up walking a lot otherwise (relax, mum, I wasn't hitchhiking, she just offered me a ride!).

Again, I didn't find the glacier that impressive, especially as it is covered in dirt and gravel. Even though you get quite close to it, it really isn't a great view.

I find it fascinating how much impact the glacier has had on the environment around, though. Leaving behind a huge valley, where things still don't grow. Like the West Coast in general, it is just such an obvious example of the incredible forces of nature.

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