Franz Josef- Westland National Park

Franz Josef is known for its glaciers- Franz Josef Glacier, and Fox Glacier.   Helicopter and hiking tours are very big here (which is why we booked our helicopter tour here, super stoked).   We arrived here on Monday evening and spent 2.5 days here.

We found an awesome camping spot next to a lake, about 14 km out of town. We arrived pretty late in the day, with little time to do anything.  So we set up camp, burned some sausages on our campfire, and went for an evening swim with the eels.  🙂  We met a nice guy from Poland, who is living in Auckland now.  He drove his car all the way from Auckland, by himself.   I thought that was pretty commendable.  He said he was heading to Queenstown next, and then to Milford Sound for a 3 day hiking trip.  We really enjoyed staying up late and chatting this guy up.

Our first full day in Franz Josef, was pissing down rain.  We went on a few short hikes anyway.  We drove to the base of Franz Josef Glacier and hiked to ‘Douglas Bridge’, which was closed off once you crossed the bridge, due to landslides.   It was still an awesome little hike.  Then we drove back towards town and hiked ‘Callery Gorge’ (which was also closed off to a landslide) and the ‘Tatare Tunnels’.  The tunnel was awesome! It was once used as a dam, and a high pressure water source to generate electricity.  Luckily we had brought our headlamps, because the tunnel was very long, dark, and FREEEEEEZING. Trudging through ankle deep glacier water, looking up at glow worms and a small light at the end of the tunnel.  Very awesome experience.

Since the weather was so crappy, we were a bit nervous that our helicopter tour might be cancelled the next day.  We went into the office to speak with someone about it, and they said the chances were quite high that it would be cancelled.  But, like New Zealand weather, it could change at any moment.

The next morning, we packed up the car since we would be heading towards Wanaka after the tour.  Unfortunately, the weather did not look any better.  And sure enough, our trip was cancelled.  We had the option for “standby” in case the weather suddenly changed and someone else cancelled their trip that day OR we could reschedule our trip for the next day, which would throw off the rest of our trip we had planned.   So, we stuck around with our fingers crossed.  For 2 hours I just stared at my phone, hoping they would call us.  When I left my phone for a minute, I came back to a missed call.  AH!  I listened to a voicemail saying they had cancelled ALL tours for the entire day. 🙁  So, we decided to move on.  Luckily they refunded my money, but still. Quite disappointing.  Patrick was basically devastated.  He was like a little kid that just crashed his new bicycle. Poor guy. haha.

The Eel infested lake.
The Eel infested lake.

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Tatare Tunnel

 

A light at the end..
A light at the end..

Tunnel exploring.
Tunnel exploring.
Tunnel exploring.
Tunnel exploring.

Douglas Bridge
Douglas Bridge

Douglas Bridge
Douglas Bridge
No crossing??
No crossing??

Callery Gorge
Callery Gorge
Callery Gorge
Callery Gorge
Callery Gorge
Callery Gorge

Callery Gorge
Callery Gorge
Patty going for a swim in Glacier Water again.
Patty going for a swim in Glacier Water again.

 

Next stop: Wanaka.

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