Jan 30, 2016
Both are islands but similarities almost stop there. They do share driving on the wrong side of the road and both speak an English dialect. They don’t share weather. We arrived in Christchurch after our 4 hour news free flight. Customs was easy until our Kava bowl underwent examination for termites. Non found so we only got the lecture from an officious inspector about the importance of declaring any organic materials. Good thing we didn’t try to bring the 2 kilos of Kava powder that Peggy wanted for the Ridge. Just kidding.
The drive to Arthur’s Pass in the Southern Alps was nice. It was cloudy and then turned sunny after cresting a mountain pass. We stopped to photograph the Castle Rocks and use the facilities. The NZ roads are superior to the Fijian roads. I kind of miss the traffic bumps and cattle on the road. In NZ the sheep and cows contentedly chew their cud behind barbed wire and out of the roadway. The national speed limit for tourists is 100 km/h and I have to routinely pull over to let the locals speed by at their conscience dictates. At least they don’t pass under dangerous circumstances. Driving is good so far.
We spend our first night in a charming and cozy cabin in the mountains after enjoying some good fish and chips. It was country and western at the pub where we ate. No more Don Ho and his Tiny Bubbles. In the morning we grabbed some muffins and took pictures of a Kea, the local mountain parrot. The Kea has the same robber personality as a Stellar Jay. We to a brisk,short walk to our first waterfall of the day before leaving Arthur’s Pass and heading towards the coast.
We drove through some dramatic canyons and finally reached the west coast. We were encouraged to see the drift wood sculptures at Hokitirita. It was interesting and a fun diversion. I enjoyed the Kiwi Lady making giant penguin tracks for the local penguins to follow. She was only slightly daft. The local grocery store was not nearly as colorful as the one in Sigatoka but we managed to find picnic supplies. We hope to picnic and do breakfast from the markets as much as possible.
Last summer in Norway we usually did our picnic in the rain. We managed to find a delightful place on our way to Franz Josef Glacier. My sister, Vicki would be jealous. We found our lodging in Franz Joseph at the local Youth Hostel. As I currently compose I am trying to interpret the group of French Seniors at the table next to me. So far nobody is cooking herring or something smellier. We are eating out tonight as guests of Will Evans and his Fiancé. Our traveling companion Bobbie Evans has never met the fiancé. It will be interesting.
After checking into the hostel we headed for the glacier. It is receding quickly so we needed to see it before it disappears possibly by the end of the decade. The walk was easy despite the large numbers of tourists. We enjoyed the waterfalls as much as the distant glacier. The plant life is extraordinary. I love the fern trees that give the environment a Jurassic look. The place looks like a primeval rain forest despite the proximity of ice and snow. Very special.
We will continue with our glacial tour tomorrow.