A familiar early start saw us on the road by 8.30am as we knew we had a 4 ½ hour journey for the day. We knew that there were at least 3 interesting stops we wanted to make on the way.
After a hair-raising drive over the Crown Ridge mountain range we arrived at our first stop The Cardrona Hotel. This is supposedly NZ's most photographed building. I loved it. The inside was just how it should be and ideally we would have stopped for coffee and some food. Apparently Prince Harry stopped there previously and had Bangers and Mash. For us though it was too early and too soon into our journey.
We pushed onto Wanaker. Immediately we realised this was another place that we should have stayed the night. It had a lovely feel to it and we would liked to have been able to wander around leisurely and then explored the Lake and surroundings. Instead we had a quick coffee/tea/NZ Scone and went back to the car to drive to find what is known as 'that Wanaker tree'. This is a single tree in the water on the edge of the Lake that was the subject of a winning photographic competition. It was very picturesesque.
After this we drove on for another hour or so until we came to the Blue Pools. It was a good 15 minute downhill walk to the Pools. It was well worth it. They were a lovely milky blue colour. Despite the water temperature only being a cold 5c, many people were jumping off the swing bridge into the water. We sat and watched whilst eating our picnic lunch.
The rest of the drive was long and challenging and we just had one other refreshment stop at the non descriptive Haast.
We were glad to finally get to Fox Glacier. After checking in and changing into our walking boots we drove to the car park for the Glacier itself. The walk was a challenging one hour round trip, over rough terrain, through the melting water and culminating in a stiff longing climb to the glacier look out point. It was huge and the amount of run off water immense. We felt a real sense of achievement in reaching it. Although the air felt damp with the wind blowing over the glacier itself, it was still warm enough to be in shorts and T shirt.
The glacier itself changes every day. It is a dangerous beast with bits breaking over constantly. Currently you can walk to within 450m of it, You can pay a large amount of money to be flown by helicopter to a place high up away from the edge of the glacier to walk on it. For us this time just seeing it was enough. Apparently the Franz Josef can be more impressive to see on some days, but it was another 25 minutes drive away and you cannot get anywhere near as close to it.
We then decided to have dinner in Fox Glacier township. The prices again were not cheap but we had a very nice meal sitting outside at The Cook Saddle.
As we were back to our room relatively early we opened a bottle of NZ rose fizz and caught up on a few things whilst waiting for some laundry to be completed.