This voyage has been years in the wishing, and only about a month in the actual planning. We talked for at least five years about flying around the world, but there was always some reason we couldn’t/shouldn’t/wouldn’t go. Why that changed at last wishing is not where I’m going with this (at least right now). The main point is that I had little time to plan and research this trip. In that short time one of the destinations/activities that I knew I wanted to do was traveling the West Coast Highway, visiting the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers in Westland Tai Poutini National Park, and driving over Haast Pass, west to east of course. Being a fervent mountain lover, a large part of the reason for this was to view the Southern Alps from the verdant vegetation and aqua glaciers found on their western flank. I somehow forgot to read the part about how all that vegetation got so verdant, and how the glaciers manage to arrest their retreat at all in the face of global warming. That would be the six to eight meters of rain that fall annually.
Which brings me to sacrifices. I’m a firm believer that some blood must be shed at the beginning of any important new venture. I don’t do it on purpose, but it always seems that something slips and I start to bleed. And rather than be upset, it reminds me that oh yes, this sacrifice must be made.
I now believe in a second kind of sacrifice. To the weather gods. As my sister pointed out, rallying against the weather gods is not a terribly productive activity. My takeaway? Pre-trip sacrifices are the way to go. I am not sure the protocol, but I will figure it out before our next voyage.
So here is what I saw from our hotel of the Southern Alps:
And from our hikes:
And from our drive (first attempt at posting video):
Yep, those would be dense clouds. To be honest, we did get this little peak, for which (any weather gods reading this) I am supremely grateful.
It took us a while to rally in Franz Josef, but eventually we got out our heavy-duty rain ponchos (this was not a garbage bag rainstorm) and headed out on a hike to the glacier. It was frustrating to not see the backdrop of snow-covered mountains, but once we got used to the wind and rain, it was actually fun. Once again, we were plastered in smiles on this trip. And the waterfalls were unbelievable up and down the valley. I don’t think I’ll ever be as impressed with a Pacific Northwest waterfall again. Thanks to Jeff who snapped all these on his iPhone (the Fuji stayed back in the dry car).
The next day we got a slightly drier window for our hike out to Fox Glacier. And here is where we caught a glimpse of the distant mountains. For some (more) spectacular pictures of this area, and other parts of New Zealand, check out a blog by Michael Evans, an Australian photographer. Stunning images, and I think he got more sunny days than we did.
After Fox Glacier, we headed out on the pass. Windshield wipers were on full blast most of the drive (except of course while Jeff was filming above video). Pretty perhaps, but I want to go back some day after I’ve made the appropriate sacrifices.