3:30 AM – the alarm goes off and we wait to see if we’ll be heading out to try to capture the quintessential image of Lake Matheson and Mount Cook. Alas, the rain hasn’t stopped… BUT that also means more sleep, yippee!
One thing to note is that I never did get to see Mount Cook. We had a few chances from various perspectives… from the south at Lake Pukaki and from the West at Fox Glacier. Cie la vie… “next trip!”
After a few more hours of quality sleep we pack up and head out to the next glacier up the road - Franz Joseph. We opted for a light hike up to sentinal viewpoint- it was a bit wet and for some reason we kept forgetting to put on our rain pants! Silly us! No matter, the valley was amazing and would make a fun hike up to the glacier on another trip with a bit more time.
The western coast varies greatly and as we drove on we quickly left the mountains and found some flat valleys and the town of Hokitika where we stopped for lunch at a cafe (more fish and chips) before continuing on to Hokitika Gorge. We were supposed to see an amazingly blue river from the swing bridge but as you can see all the rain has made the river a very dirty blue. Another “must see” for the next trip!
Something interesting to point out are all the roundabouts and 1 lane bridges… while it took me most of the south island to get a good understanding of how the roundabouts worked, when i saw this sign i understood pretty quickly who would have right of way….
And all over the South Island are the 1 lane bridges… now normally they have a sign that indicates who has right of way by the larger arrow… once again we found a situation that didn’t require a lot of thinking… us, them, TRAIN. I was glad we didn’t have to experience it but it was slightly unnerving to drive on the 1 lane bridge w/ the train tracks!
We made our way to Greymouth where we finished our night by meeting up with Matt’s wife, kids and mother-in-law at the family home. It was great fun to meet everyone as I’d heard so much about all of them and had seen many a picture of them over the years. We enjoyed a lovely authentic kiwi dinner of leg of lamb, baked pumpkin, potatoes and veggies (YUM to all!) and thoroughly enjoyed an evening getting to know everyone and mostly getting to share in the quality grammy time.