Today we left a chilly Haast after breakfast and off to the Glacier region. No coffee availability in Haast so we were hopeful for a decent coffee somewhere in the little towns dotted along our way. No coffee in first two towns. We came over one of the many single lane bridges throughout this country to a banner/flag billowing in the breeze with the word cafe on it and a large timber house in the distance.... literally in the middle of nowhere. We decided to bite the bullet and go on in. It was a salmon farm, gift shop and served breakfast, lunch and most importantly, coffee. A roaring fire and perfect timing with our ordering of coffee as a bus load of travellers canes in just minutes later. The coffee was in fact one of the nicest we’ve had on this trip. The backdrop to this cafe was big glass windows framing the majestic snow capped Southern Alps. Just beautiful.
Back on the road we headed to Fox Glacier which looked for all intents and purposes more like a big mining site with trucks working on the flat before the glacier. It was supposed to be a 30 minutes walk to the glacier but after 25 minutes of walking on quite steep, rocky and sometimes slippery terrain we were still not there and with the ascent was getting worse we decided a postcard was a good option. The only way onto the glacier these days is by helicopter so it was only a viewing platform anyway. The postcard looks great.
Next stop Franz Josef Glacier. With the knowledge that it was a longer walk we drove into the car park to see what we could see and it was very different. No construction to be seen with los of greenery around bad even from car park a great view. Again opted to not join the other thousands to walk to viewing platform. Investigation much later ( in cabin in Greymouth) we found out that the helicopter prices (unlike Milford)are very reasonable. $205 would get you a half day trip including a walk on a glacier and a viewing of 3 other glaciers.
Lunch was in a Speights pub in Franz Josef as seems to be tradition now.
We then headed off to Greymouth for a look around it before we head back to ChCh tomorrow. Greymouth continued to live up to its name and was bleak and grey again foiling our plans of capturing a sunset over water.....
Tomorrow we head for Shanty Town... a local tourist attraction based around gold... I’m guessing the reason for Greymouth original existence. Then we head back over Arthur’s Pass in what is supposed to be fine sunny albeit chilly conditions. Arthur’s Pass is supposed to be 1 degree by lunch time. Hopefully the smattering of snow will make our sightseeing even prettier.