The weeks were disappearing as we made our way down the west coast, it was almost October and that feeling you get in the last few months of the year of things drawing to a close was starting to settle in. Usually at this stage of the year I have this sense of unbelief, of shock at how quickly the year has gone. But this year things haven’t seemed to rush by quite so much.
The weather had turned bad again as we left Hokitika and since there really wasn’t much we could do in the rain we moved a little quicker than we previously had been, making it all the way to Franz Josef in one drive. There was no way we were passing through Franz without seeing the glacier so we hunkered down at a motor camp for a couple of nights hoping that the forecast was right and a fine day was on its way. On our second afternoon the sun started to come out and the clouds started to lift revealing the mountains. As if it was a sign of good things to come there were some pretty epic rainbows that afternoon, their colours so vibrant they almost didn’t look real.
The next morning thankfully we woke to the clearest skies we had seen in days. As you drive past the little township of Franz Josef and round the corner the view up the valley towards the glacier just opens up and it is stunning. You drive up the valley a little way before reaching the car park and then it’s just under an hours walk to the glacier view point. I actually think the valley itself is almost as impressive as the glacier, rocky, wide and peppered with perfect little waterfalls. To be honest there is not a lot of difference in the view that you get from the first viewing area that is just a twenty minute walk and the last viewing area that takes the better part of an hour, slightly closer, but still the same view.
There is so much more we could have done in around here but by the time we did this walk Oliver had very clearly had enough for the day. Like all little kids sometimes he’s just not in the mood for a whole day of walking, so we headed back to the bus for the afternoon and settled for a bike ride into the little town once he’d had a rest. Unfortunately the next day the weather had turned on us again so we headed on to Fox Glacier in the hopes that it would be slightly better there, alas it was not so again we spent the night at a campground crossing our fingers for a clearer day the next morning. It was slightly better the next day so we decided that we would head up to see Fox glacier a decision we do slightly question now in hindsight. The weather didn’t stay clear, so the walk really wasn’t much fun in the rain and for the first time in a long time Oliver almost gave up half way there. It was around this point in our trip that we decided we just needed to move on a bit quicker until we found some sunshine, this part of the west coast would just have to be revisited in finer weather. The weather was getting to us all by this point, normally a bit of rain doesn’t bother us but I think in this case it was because we just couldn’t do a lot of the things that we were wanting to do. The frustration of having interesting things right there on your back door step and not being able to do them was a bit like torture. We didn’t want to push through doing things in bad weather with an unhappy child, those weren’t the memories we wanted to make. I’m 100% happy we made that choice now, the west coast is just to beautiful to not do properly.