Justins World

Gorge-ous blue

It was a cold night in Greymouth and a grey sky greeted me when I woke up this morning.  I was toasty warm all night though, but the dash to the car was indeed a wee bit chilly.  After filling up at the bargain price of $2.01 a litre (that was sarcasm), I headed south to Hokitika and browsed the main street full of stores selling stuff made from green stone and other shiny things like shells.

The hot tip was to head to Hokitika gorge, which was 33 kms away through farmland. The only traffic was motorhomes heading for the same destination. I checked out how much those motorhomes were per day and with the cost of petrol on top, they really don’t make economical sense anymore.  Anyway its still a popular way to travel around NZ.

The gorge is famous due to the colour of the water, I believe it glacial and mineral related as I’ve seen similar colours elsewhere near glaciers. So I hoped to get good photos without crossing the suspension bridge, but I soon realised I had to cross the bridge to get some good photos. I’ve decided i have basophobia and not acrophobia. A fear of falling more so than a fear of heights!

Hokitika Gorge

Hokitika Gorge with suspension bridge

I returned to the car and unfortunately had to cross the suspension bridge again, but I somehow found it less scary when some Japanese tourists were even more scared than me.  As I continued driving to Franz Josef, a few things crossed my mind.  Pretty much every bridge I driven over is a single lane bridge. I must have crossed over 20 of them. With the lack of traffic they work well, but if you do have to stop one side is designated as the side that has to give way. The cars cross and people give each other a wave and continue on.

Then today I was going through some roadworks and even the girl holding the lollipop sign gave me a wave as did the guy at the other end.  Maybe they think i’m the golfer John Daly, or even better an ex All-Black. I’m just thinking the kiwis on this part of the island are just really nice people. I arrived in Franz Josef, checked into the Franz Josef Montrose and then headed out to see the glacier.  I was glad to see the glacier was a no fly zone for drones. One wonders how bad the issue was to put a sign up!

A no drone zone!

The walk is currently about 2 kms from the car park, but it used to be a lot shorter. In fact the viewpoint to the glacier was under ice in 2008.  It has receded quite a long way in just 9 years.  If its not a sign that climate change and global warming are having an effect on the earth, I don’t know what is.  There were numerous waterfalls along the valley, one had a walkway to it and had its own hoards of selfie stick admirers standing in front of the falls.

The glacier is a fair way from the viewing point for safety reasons and you can no longer do a hike onto the glacier as its too difficult to walk up and onto the glacier.  Of course if you have $450 you can fly up to the glacier and walk on it that way.

Some waterfalls at Franz Josef

The glacier was not that impressive, but I’ve seen a few now and the ones in Iceland really did spoil me.  Plus I’ve hiked on a glacier before so this was just a nice walk to see another glacier for me.  I was surprised though as I headed back at about 4:30pm with the sky getting darker that people were still walking up to the glacier.  A few I think would have been lucky to see much and then would have had to walk back in the dark.

Franz Josef Glacier from viewpoint

Franz Josef glacier through a zoom lens

Ice and dirt on the glacier

The town only has a few cafes and restaurants in it.  I walked past one and stopped at the Snakebite Brewery, which is where everyone seemed to be at.  Its Kiwi/Asian fusion place with some interesting ciders on tap. I opted for a pad thai and a berry cider, the cider having a taste like a red wine but more subtle and with stronger berry flavours.  I really liked it and wasn’t overly gassy either.

Tomorrow I have a long drive to Queenstown. Its only a tad over 300kms but its a good 5-6 hours without stopping as there are quite a few mountains to go over.  I will probably stop a few times so going to get out of here before the hoards of motorhomes do.


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