NZ Trip: Fox Glacier & Wanaka

August 2, 2023
New Zealand

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.

New Zealand

On the way to Franz Josef

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!

New Zealand

Our blue car parked at the motel and outlook from our room.

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. 

New Zealand

Fox Glacier from the Lake Matheson carpark

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’.

New Zealand

Whakapouhai Wildlife Refuge

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

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  • Reply Lydia C. Lee August 2, 2023 at 7:30 am

    I would be more than ok with no helicopter ride – I’m not really a fan of small planes either. Great scenery so yopu didn’t miss anything if you ask me. Lovely pics and it really lookks like a great trip. #WWandP

    • Reply Min August 2, 2023 at 10:15 am

      Hi Lydia – yes I was VERY ok with no helicopter ride because the weather was not good and I would have been too scared to be honest! Good call by the pilot! We missed out but nevermind – maybe on a future trip! Still had a mighty fabulous trip! 🙂

  • Reply Joanne Tracey August 2, 2023 at 7:37 am

    Great pics and how stunning is the scenery? Loving reading your trip as much as I enjoyed following the pics.

    • Reply Min August 2, 2023 at 10:15 am

      Thanks Jo – still lots more to come. Hope it doesn’t get boring! lol

  • Reply Sue from Women Living Well After 50 August 2, 2023 at 8:18 am

    Every turn in NZ has a postcard view, doesn’t it Min. One of our first holidays together was a driving trip to the South Island and we followed the same itinerary as you. We have a couple of overseas trips planned for November and June next year but would love to revisit NZ one day. So many places to visit! x

    • Reply Min August 2, 2023 at 10:17 am

      Hi Sue – yes picture perfect postcard everywhere you look! That’s exciting for you to have some trips planned to look forward to. I have a 3 night getaway coming up which I’m looking forward to but no overseas trips planned as yet! xo

  • Reply Jo Castro August 2, 2023 at 3:29 pm

    I love your images Min, and your writing descriptively took me back to some of those sharp corners, winding roads and precipices! What a day you had. I would have been wracked with nerves too. But all’s well that ends well, and it looks as if it was a day of excitement and discovery!

    • Reply Min August 3, 2023 at 9:46 am

      Hi Jo – your comment came through after all! Thank you so much for your lovely words and I’m glad it brought back some memories for you but yes – those winding roads had me white knuckled often! It was the only day I felt ‘frazzled’ and with good reason! lol Every day was a day of excitement and discovery during our holiday. This day was just a little bit more ‘interesting’! lol xo

  • Reply Joanne August 3, 2023 at 3:28 am

    That’ s too bad about the helicopter tour but your photos are absolutely fabulous. Such a beautiful area to explore.

    • Reply Min August 3, 2023 at 9:47 am

      Hi Joanne! Yes it was a shame but I’d rather be safe! It didn’t get me down. Maybe another time. I took sooo many photos and videos. It’s very hard to choose which ones (and limit them) to include with each blog post!

  • Reply Denyse Whelan August 4, 2023 at 4:52 pm

    Gosh you did a wonderful job with the images and words Min. So good for you now to revisit what was a very much needed and special holiday. It was so good to see you link up your blog post this week. Thanks for being part of the community that IS Wednesday’s Words and Pics! Warm wishes, Denyse.

    • Reply Min August 6, 2023 at 5:51 pm

      Thanks Denyse! It’s great to capture the details of a wonderful holiday – even if just for myself. It’s great to look back at and read because those little stories and moments are easily forgotten. I hope these posts are helpful for others too – maybe helpful for someone planning a trip to the same place and hopefully enjoyable for others too – to travel vicariously through my posts as I do with so many people who travel more extensively than I do! xo

  • Reply Leslie Susan Clingan August 18, 2023 at 10:11 am

    Breathtaking photos. I have a tab open to compare your lovely paintings with the photo versions of these vistas. You captured Mocha and beautiful views so well. I always enjoy seeing the accommodations in other countries. Your apartment was very sleek and modern. I remember being shocked at the tiny size of our room in Paris. Your studio is much roomier. And what a view!!

    • Reply Min August 19, 2023 at 3:26 pm

      Hi Leslie, our apartment in Wanaka was lovely with a magnificent view of the lake. The motel at Fox Glacier was a bit more simple but still nice with lovely a rural outlook. Very clever of you to compare the photos to the sketches! Don’t look too closely LOL My sketches were very loose & rushed at the time. Thank you for your kind words!

  • Reply sherry August 20, 2023 at 6:00 pm

    The South Island is just superb, isn’t it? We had the wettest walk we’ve ever done on the West coast. Never have I seen or felt so much rain. And the landslides … Love the photos! Travelling is always a bit stressful I find. And we seem to do crazy things we’d never do at home 🙂

    • Reply Min August 21, 2023 at 10:35 am

      Hi Sherry – it sure is superb! So beautiful in fact! We were lucky that we really only had a couple of days of rain our whole trip! It did mean we missed out on a helicopter trip to the glaciers but I’d rather be safe anyway. My travelling self is very different to my usual ‘at home’ self I’ve gotta agree there! lol

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