08 November 2011

Scenic Drive to Fox Glacier – NZ Feb 2011

We leave Queenstown for Fox Glacier and this is the journey that I had mentioned in an earlier post, where we saw such diversity, with the landscape changing ever so often –rainforest, wetlands, lakes, glacier-fed rivers & white water rapids.

We had a brief stopover in Arrowtown, a quaint little town, to explore the streets and lanes. On the banks of the Arrow River, it has a very arty ambience with its shops, restaurants, cafes, offices and galleries located within a tight precinct.  At the outskirts of this town we stopped at a very famous fruit shop – Mrs Jones Fruits where we bought the local produce - Manuka honey, honey comb and fruits. 

IMG_2476The scenic landscape first treated us to 2 famous lakes– Lake Hawea with the background of mountain peaks and the adjacent Lake Wanaka, which is one of the largest lakes in New Zealand.

Soon after that we stop for a walk through New Zealand Silver Beech forest and a bridge over the Makarora River to reach the Blue Pools. The views back to the mountains of the Main Divide are absolutely breath-taking.


The glacier-fed water from the Blue River and the Makarora River in these deep pools is a deep azure blue, and so clear IMG1_497that you can see right to the bottom. We were told to look out for the resident brown trout in the river and the pools. Reminded me of Stephen’s story that the way to catch trout is just tickle them under the gut and they will come flying out. It was a good time for a demo, but luckily for Stephen, there didn’t seem to be any trout around that day!!! The color was blue but not thaaaaat blue also!

IMG1_498Noticed piles of stones much like the ones I saw all over the place in Norway. We spent some time there building small piles of stones and adding to existing ones. They are actually known as Cairns and were navigation points earlier, but now people build them just for fun – as someone said Local Graffiti – more like ‘I was here’ left by tourists.

On our way up to Haast Pass, we pass over ‘Hell’s Gate’ which is a vital bridge linking the West Coast to the Otago. No vehicle is allowed to stop on the bridge, so we got off at one end and walked across it so that we could enjoy the sheer drops of the Haast River to the amazing blue mountain pools.
A little ahead a short walk through a lovely forest gives views of the spectacular 28 metres high Thunder Creek Waterfall which drop from the level of the glacier ice. This is Mt Aspiring National Park, where the Haast Highway crosses the mountains to reach the west coast and the Tasman Sea. Vast emptiness - 1700km to the west, you hit Tasmania, Australia, and to the southwest, nothingness till Antarctica, more than 4500km away!!! Lush vegetation faces the sea, but due to the salty air the trees have a stunted growth making it look like a Bonsai Garden.

We stop at beautiful and desolate place called Ship Creek where the river flows serenely on one side and waves off the Tasman Sea crash against the coastline on the other. The beach is secluded and sandy but plants grow freely around the driftwood which has washed onto the beach. The large pieces of drift wood sticking out of the sand look very beautiful that I feel like carrying one home with me!!!  Don’t know who exactly thought that we should “Walk like Penguins”, but there we were…waddling away!

End of a scenic day as we reached Fox Glacier. But there was another eventful day ahead for we were booked for a Helicopter ride and Glacier Hike.

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