On a long trip you have to expect some disappointments and today was one of those days (which to be honest we knew was coming) when our planned Heli-Hike was cancelled due to poor weather as low cloud and persistent rain all day pretty much prevented any helicopters taking off. There appears to be a small window of good weather tomorrow and we have a little flexibility to wait so we may just get lucky. Our disappointment is tempered by statement ‘how disappointed can you be with a two month holiday’. Not very is the answer.
Unlike somewhere like Queenstown which has multiple options irrespective of the weather, Franz Josef is a bit of a one-trick pony and therefore there were a lot of people wandering around the town today trying to decide exactly what to do. We decided to get wet and press on!
First stop was the Okarito lagoon. We had heard from our landlady (is that the correct term for a B&B owner) that the weather is often better at the coast (which is only around 20km from Franz Josef). It wasn’t. Nevertheless it was worthwhile to take a look and the environment always looks completely different on a dull day.
We then headed directly across to the Franz Josef where, despite the lack of aerial options, walking to the glacier was still possible. There’s a car park just outside town and the glacier is an advertised 90 minute round trip walk (Note: the advertised times allow for strolling and can generally be reduced by at least a third for the experienced walker). Despite the weather the glacial landscape as well the story of the glaciers development is still fairly dramatic so although we got completely soaked we felt we had a good visit.
As well as the main glacier walk we also mopped up two other quick walks, namely the “Sentinel Rock Walk” which is a short roundtrip to an elevated glacier viewpoint and the Peter’s Pool loop which is to a small pond which according to the signage allows for a ‘fantastic view up the glacial valley. Probably doesn’t work in the rain 😉
We popped into Picnics Bakery for a late lunch which is an excellent local café with everything made on the premises. We had a couple of pies a doughnut and some hot chocolate for under $20, definitely the culinary bargain of the trip.
After catching up a short snooze in the late afternoon we headed to 88 Asian Fusion restaurant, the number 2 rated restaurant in Franz Josef, stunning in its averageness (if that’s a word!).
Fingers crossed for sunshine tomorrow.