New Zealand: Franz Josef & Wanaka

20 March 2018: Tuesday.

We awoke to a grim day with the clouds hanging low, wrapping themselves close to the mountain tops. Looking out from our camper van window, I could almost imagine Nessie emerging from the depths of the lake’s calm waters.


Even with the grey skies, the scene we woke up to still looked like something out of a fairytale. You know, the part where the evil witch curses the land and the vibrant colours of nature turn into shades of black, white and grey.

And oh yes, this far south the mornings and evenings were far chillier and the days were also a far bit colder than the gorgeous warm ones we were welcomed with in our first week in NZ. Still, we were really blessed because whatever activities we planned, we were able to do in pretty good weather.


Like when we decided to visit Franz Josef Glacier and still, the clouds stayed draped happily around the mountains.


And while Franz Josef Glaciers could be seen from a 5min walk from the parking area, Flo and I decided to walk the 45min to the closest viewing point.


We walked by countless little waterfalls, and over small, clear-water streams…


And when we finally reached the end-point, the clouds just about lifted enough for us to have a much better view of the glaciers.


It wasn’t quite as big as I’d imagined but a side by side photo comparison at the beginning of the trail showed that back in 2008, the glacier was massive! I guess global warming has caused it to shrink back substantially. 😦


The best way to view the glaciers is really from the top by helicopter. But since we can walk, why not walk?! Flo and I agreed while on this trip that unless we cannot get to an area by land, then it’d be worth paying to go by plane or helicopter.

We decided to head to Fox Glacier after but the roads leading there were closed as they were building a new road up. We were slightly bummed so instead, we stopped for a drink and some ice-cream!


I had this delightful Honey Lemon Ginger Drink that was so warming to my belly but as I reached the 1/3 mark, a couple of bees decided to take a dunk into it. Flo scooped them out hoping to save them, but they died. 😦

Rather than spend the night at Fox Glacier as we’d initially intended, we chose to keep going to Wanaka.


It was about a 3 hour drive from Fox Glacier but we were treated to some gorgeous views along the way. We drove over the Haast Pass and saw these roaring rapids that were part of Mount Aspiring National Park.



Then, as we rounded Lake Wanaka and Lake Wahea, we had a glimpse of the pink skies from sunset before us.


We arrived in Wanaka around 8.30pm although our campsite of choice was already filled up so we went to one closer to the town centre. Since the check-in counter was closed, we had to use their external phone to call in and thankfully, there was one camper van lot left. Within the phone box there were secret envelopes and ‘Justin Thyme‘ (get it??) was the one for us. It showed us where our lot was and where all the facilities we might need were located.

Since the camping sites around Wanaka are actually holiday parks, they were again a bit more expensive but we had access to electricity and fresh water, as well as wonderful hot showers and clean toilets. I have to say that one of the things I also love about NZ is their clean toilets. Even the ones at their petrol stations are impressively clean!

It was a late dinner but I was treated to Flo’s perfectly medium rare steak!


With a simple side of boiled brussel sprouts!


21 March 2018: Wednesday.

The morning was a bit nippy and still slightly overcast. So after another gorgeous hot shower and breakfast, we went into Wanaka Town Centre.


First on the agenda: Coffee.


Then a short walk along Lake Wanaka where people were warming themselves up with water sports…


And feeding ducks…


And along the pavement bordering the lake were all these tiles dating the year and events that had happened in relation to the lake. Pretty amazing stuff!


Then, around lunch time, we decided to hike up Mount Iron. Again, it was a short hike and luckily we took an easier route winding up because coming down on the other side, we realised, would have been a mission and a half!


We could see the entire town of Wanaka from the top, as well as the lakes. We spent a good while sitting up there and gazing down on the slow hive of activity going on below. It was quite therapeutic. Until we noticed the clouds beginning to gather and decided we best get going.


Just as we reached the base of Mount Iron, we felt the first drops of rain. And with that, we bid Wanaka goodbye as we made towards Te Anau. It was a rather long drive with endless buckets of rain pouring down relentlessly on us. It was our first time in NZ experiencing so much rain but in a way, we were once again blessed because travelling while we poured meant that we were still utilising our time well rather than waiting around never knowing when it might stop.


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