Sooo, what was this thing that I saw next door to our van? It was a sweet Cannondale bicycle built for two!!! Have you ever seen such a thing? I surely, have not. Amazingly, there are a lot of people that are “Bike Packers” in NZ. They travel everywhere via bike and camp in tents at night. They ride up the tallest of mountains and on the narrowest of roads. Then they sleep on the ground at night! WOW! After admiring this bike, we went and took showers. I also (thanks to Becky) called David from a phone booth. It was REALLY good to talk to him. After talking to him, I was even more confident in us and that things were going to be ok, thank goodness! What was ironic was that I was standing in shorts and a t-shirt next to the ocean when I spoke to him, and he was watching it snow 5 inches in Atlanta! Anyway, after this, Becky and I made oatmeal breakfast in the communal kitchen, packed, and got on the road again. We stopped at a grocery store to stock up on some more food and other staples. We then drove to Hokitika. All of New Zealand’s jade is mined within 20km of this town. We shopped for a little bit at some cool stores, but when the weather started to improve, we decided to drive to Franz Joseph Glacier. Once there, you have to hike to actually see it. Me, being the brainiac that I am, wore just my Teva sandals. We did a steep 20 minute hike that took us to an elevated viewing platform. The weather wasn’t the greatest, but we could see the glacier!!!
Once we made our way back down from the viewing platform, we decided to hike out to the glacier itself. The path was very rocky, but flat.
We didn’t get close enough to the glacier to touch it. We saw several others who did. They paid to do a group hike ON it, gear included. They had on heavy duty hiking boots and garb. I had on shorts and Tevas. LOL. People looked at me funny. Surprisingly, I was quite comfortable the whole way out and the whole way back, with no soreness later on! I should write to Teva to tell them my story…. Anyway, after taking in all the amazingness of the glacier, we walked all the way back to the van. We drove to Lake Matheson in hopes that we could see Mount Cook. We got there and hiked out to where we were supposed to be able to see it, but the weather wasn’t cooperating. We couldn’t see it at all! It was still a pretty hike though, as you can see from the pictures below…
After our hike, we decided to find our campsite for the night. We drove to a DOC campground on Lake Ianthe. It was so pretty, right on the shore of the lake. We were roughing it tonight…no showers, only composting potties, and no potable water. We had a feast planned though! Tonight’s special was chicken curry with veggies. We unloaded our food and cookware on a picnic table near a babbling brook by the lake and began prepping our food. It was pretty! However, two things began to suck. One, the DAMN sandflies were here, BIG TIME. The other thing that sucked was that we couldn’t get our camping stove to work at all. Fortunately, there were two women at a picnic table close by and they saw we were having troubles. They let us borrow their camp stove! To thank them, we made them a plate of crackers, cheese and fruit. They were very pleasantly surprised! Becky made us yummy chicken curry (she wasn’t as big a fan of it as I was, but I kicked mine up a notch with a little peanut butter and a handful of raisins – YUM!). We ate quickly cause we were getting eaten alive by the stupid sandflies.
Even though it was still light out, Becky and I decided to get in the van in order to get some solace from the sandflies. We chatted and journaled and knitted while looking out over the lake to watch the sun set. Before it got too dark, I saw a feral cat that came out of the woods in search of food scraps under our neighbors picnic table. There is a terrible feral cat problem in NZ and there are traps for them all over the place. They look like cute kitties, but they are apparently wilder than wild and NOT friendly. It was odd to see a wild cat like that, that at home in US, could pass off as someone’s cuddly pet. He slunk back to the woods as quietly as he came out. Wild. Literally. As it got dark, we got out our headlamps so we could continue writing and knitting. The light attracted the darn sandflies that got into the van though. We killed a bunch of them, but couldn’t get them all, darn it. We went to sleep, but before we did, another car pulled up next to us full of noisy people. Hrumph. Perhaps I won’t be so quiet when we get up early tomorrow morning….. 😉
By the way, I neglected to mention that Becky and I sat down with all our guidebooks a night or two before. After much research and strategizing, we determined that we just didn’t have enough time to get to the southern part of the South Island. No Queenstown or Milford Fjords for us! Shoot. Well, we’ll just have to somehow make our way back to NZ someday! Anyway, tomorrow is a big day….Arthur’s Pass!