Monday, January 23rd, 2023

Distance travelled 161 kilometres

It might seem a bit unusual, by the standards of this holiday so far, but I am quite pleased to report that nothing painful, embarrassing or otherwise significant happened to me during the entire day.

We got up later than usual, because we were, for once, in no rush. It was only about 160 kilometres to Fox Glacier Township and we had all day to do it.

Before we left, I walked the short distance to the Glow Worm Dell.

In daylight, the worms were totally invisible in the foliage. They might not have been there at all.

I also took a picture of the beach as a contrast to the one I had taken in the dark, the previous evening.

We set off for Fox Glacier Township in bright, warm sunshine.

We rode at our normal pace, which was quite slow anyway. We stopped at every lookout point we passed and enjoyed the views of the beautiful countryside in the sunny weather.

After yet another of Lucie’s chosen listed cafés, in the town of Ross, was found to be closed, we had our breakfast in Harihari village. I was briefly saddened by the fact that, because we had missed breakfast, which was only served until 10.30, I could not have bacon and eggs on toast – but then amused by the fact that the lunch menu did allow me to order a toasted sandwich containing, you guessed it, bacon and eggs …. Oddly, this was cheaper. Go figure ! Lucie wanted to have a “scone“, which is traditionally made with butter and jam, but to her surprise, it was a savoury item, there was even bacon in it. The folks in those parts are obviously not descended from Yorkshire stock !

It is hard to describe just how beautiful the countryside of New Zealand is. We were afraid that, eventually, we might become “used” to it. Luckily, around almost every bend in the road there was some new scenic delight. We made one of our regular stops beside this lake. The water really was that colour !

We had debated between ourselves for a long time about taking a helicopter to the top of the glaciers and had eventually decided that we would go for it. In the small town of Waiau, which is also called Franz Josef after the nearby glacier, we stopped at the tourist experience office. We ordered a helicopter ride for the next day from Glacier Country Helicopters (10 Main Road, Franz Josef). There were many companies offering flights, but I had picked up the Glacier Valley business card whilst debating bacon sandwiches at breakfast in Harihari.

As we had approached Franz Josef, the weather had suddenly become quite dull and, worst of all, cloudy and so we were not asked to pay up front in case the weather, the next day, precluded flying. Rather scarily (for me, at least) we were weighed because helicopters have a weight limit. I was afraid they might decline to take me, or make me go up all by myself, but this was not suggested ! We left for Fox Glacier Township hoping the weather would clear up.

After a quite steep climb over the next ridge we came to Fox Glacier Township, which also takes its name from a nearby glacier. We stayed at Sunset Motel (93 Cook Flat Road, Fox Glacier) that both promised and delivered mountain views from every room.

I could lay in bed and, clouds permitting, see the summits of both Mount Cook and Mount Tasman. The whole place had a slightly stylish air about it and we were glad we were staying, for once, two nights in the same spot. We even got given a simple, but entirely adequate, breakfast.

Maybe the relaxed air of the place got to us, but instead of piling off on a hike or something, we just sort of chilled out and loafed around waiting for our laundry to wash and dry. My socks really needed that washing, I can tell you – they were beginning to have what can only be described as “an air of Rotorua” about them !!

Showered and in clean clothes, we wandered the short distance up the road to the Betsey Jane Restaurant (27 Cook Flat Road, Fox Glacier).


For our main meals I had wok fried pork belly which was surprisingly filling and Lucie had smoked salmon. The latter was not usual thin slices, but a sizeable chunk of fish. Please, do not ask about desserts, we neither of us had any room for that ! It was a good place.

Oddly, despite quite a lazy day, the relaxed air and quiet setting sent me quickly off to sleep. Outside of the window, the final rays of the setting sun slowly faded from the mountaintops. Maybe I had dreams about helicopters, but who can know ……