Monday, January 12, 2009

We have had an eventful few days. We are moving pretty fast, not spending as much time in each place. Today we drove from just north of Queenstown to the Franz Joseph Glacier on the west coast. We started the day driving along plains and then we went up through a mountain pass, drove along a stunning lake and then headed to the coast. It was a gradual transition but pretty soon we were in the mountains.

There were streams tumbling down the slopes with rivers which are still fed from melting snow in the high mountains. We went up and over and then all of a sudden there was the Tasman Sea with sand dunes along the water. The road led us a little bit inland and then we were in glacier country. We passed the Fox Glacier where 2 people were killed the other day and then we stopped at Franz Joseph Glacier, which is also the name of the town we are in. The place is filled with mountain adventure companies, offering sight seeing tours, heli-skiing, river jet boat adventures and glacier tours.

We walked up to view the Franz Joseph Glacier which is apparently one of the world’s only glacier’s that ends in a temperate rain forest, quite unique. It doesn’t have a patch on the Columbia Ice Fields or the glaciers we have seen in the Yukon, although I must say there wasn’t a temperate rain forest anywhere close to the ones I have just mentioned.
We stopped in Queenstown to find a place to stay and happened on a rugby game.
It was a pub charity event so the games were really short. I buttonholed a friendly Kiwi and figured out most of the rules. It was a beautiful day, beer, rugby, sun and gorgeous mountains just seemed to be a wonderful way to spend the afternoon. While we were in Invercargill we stopped at a museum and we got to see an exhibit on the World’s Fastest Indian and the life of Burt Munro. If you haven’t seen that movie it is well worth watching.
We are going to head further north tomorrow, perhaps getting to Nelson where we hope to visit with some friends.