Sunday, January 31, 2016

New Zealand 2016 Day 16. Matukituki to Franz Josef Glacier

I woke up quite early in the morning, and was having my second cup of coffee when this monstrous bull come ambling by, just a few feet from the van. We had parked by a row of trees, about 50 ft from the turquoise river, and apparently this pretty spot is where he likes to have his morning pasture. I was planning on crossing the river and exploring the path to the east fork, but I did it tentatively thinking that the bull might scare Anna. No, he was happily eating grass, so I put it out of my mind and went for a crisp morning walk, while the clouds started to gather ominously over the valley. It started to drizzle. Not too bad, but I had to turn back because of the fords we still had to cross to get back. When I got back to camp I found Anna in a flutter. Yes, the bull had surprised her, but he had also become curious about the table, the chairs, the stove, the sugar, and the coffee, and he had made a big mess.

We headed back as soon as everything was clean, had breakfast in Wanaka, were disappointed that they didn’t have a hot tub in the community pool, and finally headed north, with the plan of crossing the Southern Alps and reaching the coast. It was a very pretty drive, and we stopped in a couple of places (Thunder Falls, Roaring Billy Falls), but the weather kept deteriorating as we moved north. Finally we arrived in the little town of Franz Josef Glacier under a light rain.

Now, we have been staying at a chain of camping places called Top 10, and we have been paying between NZ$18 and NZ$23 per person per night. We have been pretty happy with the amenities, so we were glad to see one in this town. But the price here had soared to $40 per person! Forget it. We made a couple of phone calls and found another place at a much better price (but without amenities such as a kitchen or a reading room). Anna crossed the street an had a long session in the Glacier Hot Pool, while I took a shower and read under the veranda of the grill patio. Then it started to rain, and rain, and rain. We had a late dinner and went to bed, trying not to think on what we would do in the morning if the rain didn’t ease off.

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