Saturday, January 12, 2013

moving toward the glacier at a glacial pace

I know that when you are traveling the guides want to break up the monotony of long days when you are transiting from one place to another but as I review the photos of the day we are STILL in the first half of... I feel like there were a few too many stops-

here we have ended up in a town, along a lake--- I think it is Wanaka but it might be Hawea - LOL seriously, it was a fairly small town and all I really remember about it is that the other half of the group that missed out on the 9 AM ice cream at Jone's Fruit Stand had ice cream here by the lake - and that Christel got to mail her postcards. Oh and that we saw cabbage trees in full bloom (as well as the Manuka flower that is the basis for their NZ honey)

The Maori people used manuka flower (below) as a medicinal plant, from treating fevers and colds to using it as a sedative. The early European settlers called it the "tea tree". This is a strong flavored honey but with a fresh clean bite.

mind you we are still in the before NOON period of the day... from this stop we drive along the southern alps - which really are magnificent - but we don't actually stop- so these photos are taken from the bus- admittedly, what is there to stop for? a very long lake goes on for miles and so do the mountains that serve as the backdrop-

somewhere around Makarora, I think, we get a lunch stop where we grab food just after one giant tour bus (Asians) and before another (young Americans) we eat and get on the road in fairly short order-

the signs outside the lunch place pretty much cover TB's two food groups on this trip- giant bowls of coffee and massive amounts of ice cream- it is just after noon and on this day I think he has passed the two ice cream mark before 1 PM....

we continue on up the road toward Haast and Mike gives us some background on the deer scourge (nearly everything is a scourge here when it comes to introduced flora and fauna) -  the deer came in- took over the habitat of pretty much everything - not unlike the ones back home.  the solution was found when they started farming them for venison production.  there were a lot of interim steps which will be detailed in the part of the story where we visit Possum Pete's, but meantime I mention them because just up the road we come across some of the farmed deer hanging out under the trees for some shade in the high noon sun-

bet most hunters NEVER see that many POINTS in one place...but this was a drive by shooting (with camera) not an actual stop.  Soon we get to the Blue Pools where there is a hike (I opt out- the distance and grade being questionable in the "save the knees for the important stuff" equation.) I did get a photo from the sign and Kerry was nice enough to send me her photos as well... below the photo from the hiking trail marker:

next stop- the Gates of Haast- first, a grabbed a shot from the bus on the way over the bridge- and it turned out to be the best view but Mike led us down to the water and under the bridge for another view to fully round out the experience-


back on the bus and onward- only three more scenic stops - one a waterfall and the other a forest/beach walk and finally an overlook at Knight's Point along the Tasman Sea... then we pull into Fox Glacier (the town) late in the day and check into our lovely hotel- small but waaaay better than the one we spend the next two nights in... so credit where credit it due...

I think this was our view of Mount Cook - the highest peak in NZ- viewed from the WC stop across the road -

the forest and beach walk below - we have finally made it to the famed West Coast-

the Tasman Sea-

and the scenic overlook- Knight's Point-

and on to the hotel-

only one night here- sadly because the next hotel was seriously lacking in both location and charm... more later-

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