jen yu: new zealand 2004 - day 2

new zealand 2004 - day 2

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franz joseph glacier, fox glacier, glenorchy
november 26, 2004
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We left Hokitika by 6:30 am to get to Glenorchy before the DOC office closed at 4:30 pm. This was to leave enough time to visit the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers on the way. The world's alpine glaciers are mostly retreating, but the Fox and Franz Josef are advancing! We stopped at Franz Josef for a quick hike up Sentinel Rock to catch a view. The weather was glorious. We then drove to the Fox Glacier. We never saw the Fox, but hiked Lake Matheson in the opposite direction. The loop around Matheson was closed in the middle section, so we hiked to Reflection Island to get some lovely views of Mount Cook and Mount Tasman.

After the glaciers, we hit the road for real. Except that I asked Jeremy to turn off at Haast to get a sunny picture of Flat Stanley by the Tasman. I didn't realize that Route 6 would be entering Mount Aspiring National Park. What an amazingly picturesque drive! In Wanaka, we drove past Puzzling World and we made a "note to self" to come back and check it out. We took the scenic route from Wanaka to Queenstown, crossing the Crown Range and stopping above Queenstown for more Flat Stanley pics and views of our own. It had turned overcast.

Time was tight, so we tried our luck with the Queenstown DOC office. Bad news. The Rees-Dart Track was not complete because a swing bridge in the alpine zone had not been put in due to avalanche hazard. The Routeburn was also closed (which we were planning to hike later). It's tricky getting information from Park Service types because they have to assume that everyone asking about hikes is an idiot. "Snow on the track" could mean many things.We drove on to Glenorchy. Queenstown, by the way, was a total hole. It was raining and crowded beyond belief. Traffic was insane and peds were swarming everywhere.

The road from Queenstown to Glenorchy follows the shore of Lake Wakatipu, which is a beautiful gem blue color thanks to glacial flour. Yet another gorgeous drive which took about 45 minutes. In Glenorchy, the DOC had closed, but we read all of the posted weather and track reports. Snow storms, avalanche hazards, impassable alpine routes. Scrap the Rees-Dart! It was rainy, cold, and I felt crappy, so we checked into a nearby motel - the Mt. Earnslaw Motel. We got ourselves sorted out and discussed our options.

We stepped out to see if the cafe was still open (by 6:00, it was not) and decided to walk the ~5 km Glenorchy trail which goes through a lagoon on the edge of town. Upon returning to town, we dined on a plate of fish and chips, and a wonderful bowl of vegetable soup (more like a stew) at the Glenorchy Hotel. We played a game of chess while we waited for our food and then looked on their wall-size topo map for various Lord of the Rings filming locations.

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