Stop #15: Fox Glacier

Number of nights: 2
Distance: 370 KM (3,756 KM Total)

While riding down the west coast, the weather didn’t get any better. Sure, we had a few patches of sun here and there, but we shared a level of anxiety as we approached the mountains, worried that we may never actually see them due to the low-lying clouds.

The west coast has two main glaciers: the bigger and more popular Franz Josef Glacier, and the more southerly Fox Glacier. We decided to skip Franz Josef altogether and head for Fox Glacier, where we ended up staying for two nights to wait out the weather. We thought that Fox Glacier was the better choice of the two because of the nearby Lake MacKenzie, which is known for having a mirror-like quality that reflects the mountains perfectly, especially early in the morning.

We headed there on two mornings, and thankfully the weather cooperated on the second morning, as you’ll see from the photos below. Note: there must have been a hundred photos of the lake to choose from, and after looking at all of them until my eyes started to bleed, I still think I didn’t pick the best one!

This was the shot out of a hundred that I picked. All that was missing was some Dan Gibson’s Solitudes music. It couldn’t have been more calm.
Another shot, but with a portrait orientation. Wait, is the picture upside down? I’m not sure!
I lied: it wasn’t so calm. We sadly had to share the moment with some of the most arrogant tourists out there: amateur photographers. These pests actually showed up in front of several other points of interest on our journey south.
At least we had the forest to ourselves, and the Jesus Light! The path around the lake was a very pleasant walk, and we were thankful to discover a few other viewpoints that were not contaminated with photo-snobs.
That’s mount Mount Cook on the right and Mount Tasman on the left, the first and second highest mountains in New Zealand.
Mount Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand. We were so happy to have no clouds! It didn’t last long though, as shortly afterwards the clouds you see on the right started moving in and covered the summit.
Hiking the roughly two kilometer trail up to Fox Glacier.
Fox Glacier
Dominique making friends with a park ranger in front of Fox Glacier. Nice fellow, but he didn’t talk much. Didn’t move much either.
The walk back was just as awe-inspiring. The glacier once crept all the way down this valley, and there was a sign indicating where the glacier was over the years. I don’t remember the exact date when it was at this point, but it was surprisingly recent.
Continuing south, we drove along Bruce Bay, which had some very impressive waves that splashed quite close to the highway!
The weather improved as we drove south, and when we arrived at Knights Point Lookout (where this photo was taken), the conditions were perfect, if not a bit chilly.
This was taken at Ship Creek (not to be confused with that other creek we all have found ourselves in), a rugged windswept beach that had nothing but perfect skipping stones!
A stone-skipper’s dream come true: the whole beach had flat skipping stones! Unfortunately the choppy waters didn’t make for good stone skipping, but I kept a few stones for when that opportunity would present itself.
We were heading to Wanaka, and our drive took us inland along the river Haast, which had a beautiful shade of turquoise. Along the way we stopped at Fantail Falls, which were not that impressive to see since they were covered in forest (you can see them in the background), but the journey there was kind of interesting, as we had to walk across a large field of stones containing these little stone towers you see in the foreground.
Thunder Creek Falls, one of the many stops (most consisting of waterfalls) along the Haast river.
We caught sight of a beautiful rainbow on our walk to the Blue Pools, which was further along the River Haast.
The water at the Blue Pools was crystal clear, and when the sun was out it would turn a dizzying shade of turquoise. There were some dumb youths who were jumping off the bridge, a little crazy since the water was frigid.
A closer shot of the Blue Pools.
The very windy Lake Wanaka, from the campsite. We almost camped here because it was free, but I’m glad we didn’t because we would not have had any cover from the freezing cold wind coming off the lake.
This is a shot of Lake Hawea, from a spot called “The Neck”, where if I turned 180 degrees, I would be facing Lake Wanaka.