If we hadn’t already decided to do some major driving today, the gathering clouds would have indicated that this was a good day to hit the road. And what a road it was. As we traveled from the alpine area of Queenstown to the glaciers on the Tasman Sea coast, the pattern was: switchback, hair pin curve, one lane bridge, hair pin curve, one lane bridge, switchback. Every time we got up a good head of steam, it was down shift and repeat the pattern again.
The scenery continued to be beautiful, but the gray clouds lessened our desire to take multitudes of photos. Rain showers were to be expected as we neared the Tasman Sea. Much of New Zealand’s rouwdiest weather comes from this direction, most of it from the Antarctic.
But as we neared Fox Glacier, the drizzle stopped and we hiked as close to the glacier as is allowed. Glaciers can be deceptively dangerous. Two men were killed here not too long ago when a large chunk of ice fell off and crushed them. We have been circling the ice field that the Fox Glacier descends from ever since we first saw Mt. Cook and its glacier over a week ago. Because we have to drive so much to see the next glacier and they all have different names, it is hard to imagine that they are all running down the mountainsides from the same source. Fox Glacier got its name from the prime minister who decided to name it after himself when he saw it. Modest fellow. The glacier had that typical look of rock cover and deep blue fissures. Beautiful in its own stark way.
Less than twenty miles up the road is Franz Josef Glacier, which we hope to hike to tomorrow weather permitting. At least the Austrian man who discovered it, named it after his emperor. Brownie points at home!