Tuesday & Wednesday
Tuesday dawned wet and rainy, and even more cloudy - no mountains were visible at all, not even their bases. We got an early start in the van and had a stop at a jade shop where they carve and make jewelry out of the local jade, "punama", found in the area. Pressing onward down the west coast, we had a quick lunch stop at a picnic area - staying in the van because of the pouring rain. We finally reached the Fox Glacier at about 1:00, where several of us went on a glacier hike led by a glacier guide. We, as well Peggy, were advised not to go, and it was rugged indeed, especially in the pouring rain. The others who went, slid through dark crevasses wearing special boots with crampons (spikes) on the bottom. There were areas where ropes were needed to climb up the ice walls. Anne spent part of the afternoon in a wonderful hot bathtub - our hotel was excellent.
Wednesday morning looked good with patches of sunshine and blue sky, so we all went off for our planned walk around Lake Matheson, a kettle lake formed as the Fox Glacier receded millennia ago. (Unlike so many glaciers in the world, the glaciers here are actually currently advancing!) The area in general is a temperate rainforest much like parts of the Pacific Northwest in the USA and Canada - and after a false promise of good weather, the rain set in in earnest when we were about halfway through our walk. It was a beautiful walk nonetheless, with lush vegetation, and lunch awaited us at a cafe at the end of the loop trail. We cancelled our afternoon expedition to the beach because of the rain, and drove directly to our next overnight accommodation, another terrific Wilderness Lodge, at Lake Moeraki near the sea.