Saturday, August 6, 2011


Before writing this post, I’d been trying really hard to work out a proper Princess Bride reference.  The kids have been watching this movie a fair amount this trip, and they can quote it like champs.

Since I felt like I was repeating myself so strongly by saying how amazing everything is in this country, I was trying to come up with some play on “HELLO!  My name is Inigo Montoya.  You killed my father.  Prepare to die.”

I didn’t think I had the line down right, but today, my little 3 ½ year old said in a perfect mimicry, “HELLO!  My name is Susan Mack.  New Zealand is beautiful.  Prepare to look at my blog.”

I guess someone got it down.

Well, today, I am not just talking about how amazingly beautiful things are.  As I mentioned in my last post, we drove 6 hours to the West Coast of New Zealand to go visit the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers this weekend.

We got in last night and immediately headed to get sunset at the Franz Josef Glacier, intending to do many more glacier walks today.
Franz Josef Glacier

One of the most interesting things about these two glaciers is that they are located in the middle of a rainforest.

Rainforest along the road near glaciers.

Although this leads to some fantastic scenery, it also presents a clear problem.  What does it do in rainforests?  Duh.  It RAINS!

We woke this morning to a torrential downpour.  I thought, “maybe this will clear up by this afternoon.” Chris went to the hotel office to check their opinion on the weather forecast.  They said that we could expect the rain to stop sometime tomorrow afternoon.  Like tomorrow-afternoon-about-the-last-possible-time-that-we-need-to-leave-to-head-back-to-Christchurch.  Like tomorrow-afternoon-when-we-have-already-paid-for-two-nights-at-this-hotel.


It’s not terribly safe to hike to the glaciers in the rain, the photography isn’t that great, and we didn’t have good enough raingear for the kids to enjoy themselves.  And if the kids ain’t happy, Mama ain’t happy.  And if Mama ain’t happy… well… you know the rest.

And there’s not that much to do in Franz Josef when it rains.  You can go look at kiwis at the wildlife center.  Already did that in Christchurch.  Or you can go see an Imax movie of glaciers.  Or you can stay in your hotel room and watch movies.  Or you can drink beer in the pub.

We decided to start with the Imax.  It was, well, disappointing.  Lots of west coast scenery, not a lot of glacier info.  But it did have some good scenes, and it was the only time I’ve gotten a private showing of an Imax movie, as we were the only ones in the theater.  Then, we went and got lunch at the pub.

We were contemplating either going to the wildlife center or hitting the hot pools afterwards, but… at that point, the rain had lightened up enough that we decided it was worth driving out to Fox Glacier and seeing if we could stand the hike. 

Good decision.  We did hike to the glacier (and were, once again, almost the only people there!) or at least as close as we could get.  As close as we could get was still 700m from the face.  But given the difficulties of getting the kids to stay on the well-marked safe trail, it was probably a good thing we didn’t get too close.  And it didn’t rain the entire way.
Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier Up Close

Clouds playing in Glacier Valley
Then, we did the great hike to Lake Matheson.  This is famous for the completely picturesque view of the mountains that can be seen reflected in the mirror pool.  It’s also a 2.6 km hike around the lake.
Although 2.6 km doesn’t seem like a long hike to the adults, when you have two tired children who already hiked a bit that day and you don’t have your jellybeans with you, it can be a long hike.  You know that I am the mother of girls because I told them that it was the fairy forest and when they said they didn’t want to walk, I suggested that we all flap our wings and fly.
Sarah and Anna on a Swinging Bridge in the "Fairy Forest"

View from Lake Matheson's Reflection Island

And it worked. We got our photos, everyone made it around the lake (even without jelly beans) and we could cart our tired children back to our hotel room.

The biggest benefit of the rain – the entire afternoon felt like a bonus treat, rather than something expected.  We’d already written off the day, so being able to see everything we saw felt like a surprise birthday present or maybe a snow day.

Anyway, I think we’re driving through the Haast Pass tomorrow, so there will probably be more of my ‘Inigo Montoya’-style "New Zealand is Beautiful" posts after that.

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