Saturday, January 28, 2017

Glaciers

the      The town of Franz Josef Glacier consists of a few motels, restaurants and a large gravel bed helioport to take tourists up to the glacier. We opt for a 3 mile walk through the wide glacial canyon rimmed by tall cliffs and ribbons of waterfalls. The walk ends at what used to be the terminus of Franz Josef Glacier, which shockingly has retreared considerably since our last visit almost a decade ago. I look at the remaining stretch of blue streaked ice and am disturbed at the thought that our granddaughter Zoe may not grow up seeing glaciers like this.







     I am surprised by the number of tourists from China- even the motel has a version of the town map printed all in Chinese. The restaurants even offer a variety of Asian street foods which are quite good. I later read that New Zealand has made a concerted effort to woo tourists from China, offering end to end travel packages with a focus on providing a great experience. Last year during the "golden week" of Chinese New Year, they saw 50,000 Chinese tourists, an increase of 40% from the previous february. We make note to add these dates to our list of weeks to avoid.
     Our visit here is short and we head out of town toward Fox Glacier and do a short walk at Lake Matheson. It is quite windy and we miss seeing the reflections it is known for. 
     Today is our long driving day as we are heading to Wanaka. We drive through the mountain pass and past the "neck", the strip of land that separates Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea, both enormous bodies of emerald colored waters, pristine and totally natural. No dams here. We are amazed that there is no development around either of the lakes; the lakes are void of boats and people. 
     We find the apartment complex and a minimart, and gather enough supplies for a simple dinner. Distinctive Wanaka, resort apartments are comfortable and well equipped. 

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