Day 4 (16 May)
After our visit to the West Coast Treetop Walkway at Hokitika (see previous NZ Trip post) we hit the road headed to Franz Josef. This day didn’t go according to plan and I actually got quite frazzled at one point, but it ended well so all was ok!
We were to check in at 1:30pm for a 2:00pm helicopter flight that would take us to view both Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers and we would be landing on one and standing on the glacier for a photo opportunity. I was a bit nervous but excited about it too. The drive from Hokitika to Franz Joseph was spectacular. The mountains, some of which were snow capped, the lush green, the colour of the water in the waterways (an icy cool clear blue colour because they’re fed by the glaciers}. It was like being in a postcard. The weather was great when we left Hokitika, but the closer we got to Franz Josef the greyer and more rainy it got. We’d not had any call from the helicopter company telling us the flight was cancelled though so assumed all was still ok.
We arrived in Franz Josef, spotted the helicopter company’s office, and as we had time up our sleeve we decided to go and have a nice leisurely lunch at a nearby cafe – Full of Beans – before checking in with them at 1:30pm. It was so warm and cosy inside with a lovely fire burning away. I was munching away on a toasted ham, cheese and tomato sandwich feeling relaxed and happy when The Tennis Player (hubby), who had been scrolling away on his phone, suddenly declared “quick, we’ve gotta go, we don’t check in at the office – that’s just the office where you book, we’ve gotta drive further to a helipad”. I suggested we check at the office first but no – he knew! He wouldn’t listen to me, so off we went. Driving further. And we drove, and drove, and drove – in pouring rain mind you and along very perilously winding mountainous roads. I finally said “this does not feel right”. I checked the map and we were no longer at Franz Joseph but nearly at Fox Glacier. SO, in the pouring rain, on a perilously winding mountain road we had to find somewhere to turn around and head back. Turns out I was right – checking in at the office was what we were meant to do all along. To this day I don’t know where he got this idea of needing to get to a helipad. Anyway – we got to the helicopter company’s office just in time, only to discover that the pilot had decided the weather was not safe to fly in. Not surprising considering the heavy rain we’d been driving through and to be honest I was relieved because it didn’t feel safe to fly in that weather. So after all of this hoo ha we then jumped back in the car and headed back along the winding mountain roads towards Fox Glacier again whilst I tried to chill my frazzled self out.
There was a chance we could get on a flight the next morning but it depended on two things 1) the weather, and 2) whether anyone else books. They won’t go up with any less than three passengers. No-one else booked so that didn’t happen. The helicopter company were going to reimburse our payment and suggested we try for another glacier helicopter flight from either Queenstown or Mount Cook.
We arrived at Fox Glacier and to our motel for the night (Lake Matheson Motel) and were greeted by the most affectionate cat I’ve ever come across in my life – ‘Mocha’. This was just what I needed as all the cuddles with Mocha released every last bit of frazzle left in me. She made herself at home in our room while we had a coffee. Had to kick her out though as we left to go check out Lake Matheson which was beautiful as was the walk to it! We were going to visit the Reflections Gallery out there but of course it was closed!
We’d been recommended Betsey Jane Eatery & Bar for dinner which was just a short walk from where we were staying. It exceeded my expectations! The ambience inside was warm and inviting and the food was absolutely delicious! We both had Slow Cooked Lamb Ragout – so delicious! I highly recommend you eat here if you’re ever at Fox Glacier.
Day 5 (17 May)
No helicopter flight for us, so we went back to the gallery at Lake Matheson to have a look around and grabbed some coffee & brekky there. There were great views of snow capped mountains and you could actually see Fox Glacier from there. Then off we went for the 3hr drive to Wanaka.
The weather worsened along the way. Another beautiful drive though, crossing loads of quaint little one lane bridges. The sheep over there are so compact, neat & dainty and they roam the hillsides like goats! We stopped at Haast to grab some lunch. Along the way we stopped at a few lookouts and to investigate a big rock wall behind which was a very wild ‘Bruce Bay’.
We eventually arrived at Wanaka and our Lakeview studio apartment at ‘The Moorings‘ where we stayed 2 nights. We unloaded all our gear, had a coffee, & then went for a walk around the shops (in the pouring rain) & bought a few things at ‘New World’. We booked a table for dinner at Speight’s Ale House – just a short walk from where we were staying. The weather was not showcasing Wanaka at its best so fingers and toes were crossed for a better day tomorrow!
Dinner at Speight’s Ale House was fabulous. Great service and ambience, and the food was delicious! I had Pasta Pomodoro with Chicken and it was yum (penne pasta, tomato & basil sauce, roasted mediterranean vegetables, parmesan & basil pesto)! I could only eat half of it so got a doggy bag and took the rest home. That was my lunch the next day, zapped in our apartments microwave!
The next NZ Trip post will pick up at Day 6 in Wanaka. Till then . . .
Ciao for now,
Linking up with Denyse Whelan’s ‘Wednesday’s Words and Pics‘