Despite two prior visits, the Franz Josef Glacier remained a mystery to me. Both times it had been cloaked in mist, rain and clouds. A third and final time proved to be the charm.
Today (April 25th) marks one of the few public holidays here in New Zealand – ANZAC Day. Standing for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps, ANZAC Day commemorates and remembers those that gave their lives in military service for their country – identical to Remembrance Day in Canada, including the wearing of the poppy.
It was originally created as a remembrance of those lost at Gallipoli, a major battle in World War 1 that saw the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps enter a pitched landing and battle, resulting in heavy casualties. The day of that landing was April 25th, 1915.
Being a public holiday, the shops are closed for the morning to allow ceremonies to be held and observed. Things don’t seem quite as high profile or easily seen as in Canada (I haven’t seen too many poppies), but the ceremonies are apparently well attended here in New Zealand.
Having driven the Haast Pass a couple times already, I knew the drive had several potential stops along the way for hiking and photos. Nothing too serious in length, but worthwhile. So far I had only been to Thunder Falls, so with my parents we planned to be more thorough in our stopping and see a few more spots.
Once again, we were to have nothing but sunshine the entire way.
Oh yes, I had just spent time in little Arrowtown.
After that, my parents flew into Queenstown! We hit the highlights – wandering around town, they went to a Kiwi bird park, Arrowtown and Ben Lomond (some of these photos will be theirs).
First, my parents got a scenic flight from Auckland to Queenstown thanks to the stellar weather. This was their view as they flew down the South Island.
One of the huge glacial lakes (Tekapo or Pukaki, I’m not sure) and the west coast laying beyond, quite a nice sight to see! Once they arrived in Queenstown, we toured the town and had a relaxing first day while they recouped from a long day of travel.
After back to back Great Walks, I had finished off all of my goals for the south end of the South Island – Great Walks, Paragliding, extra walks…all finished! So I pretty much had a week or so to relax, kick up my feet, and enjoy the surroundings. As luck would have it, the weather decided to do nothing but shine sun on me for most of those days. It was cold at night, but the days were glorious.
So rather than relax in Queenstown, a notably non-relaxing place for me (too many people/tourists), I traveled up the road a bit to quaint Arrowtown.
If there is one thing synonymous with food in Queenstown, it is Fergburger. And having been in Queenstown quite often, I’ve been presented with many opportunities to sample Fergburger’s diverse and delightful options. In the interests of science, I have tasked myself with cover Ferg’s menu as much as I could. While I haven’t tried EVERYTHING on the menu, I’ve had enough to at least quantify my experiences here.
First thing you need to know about Fergburger, is that these are BIG burgers.
Second, is that they use amazingly good, high quality ingredients.
Third, and most importantly, they use magic and possibly mystical beings to create the wonderfully diverse tastes.
Just a few short days after my journey on the Milford, I was heading out for my next Great Walk – the Kepler Track. I had wanted to wait for perfect weather, and my hiking companion, Becky, and I got it just 3 days after I had stepped off the Milford. A bit of a quick turn around, but I’m not going to miss out on 3 perfectly sunny days!
The Kepler Track is probably the most ‘accessible’ Great Walk there is – you can actually just walk to it from the town of Te Anau. It was created in 1988 as a way to off-load some of the demand on the Milford and Routeburn tracks, and thus doesn’t have the history that those tracks do, but also has some nice, more modern amenities. Such as switch-backs for going up and downhill, and a fantastically laid out track itself. Very wide and easy to walk. They made some goofy decisions still (the campground spacing is terrible), but overall, it was quite a different experience compared to the other two Great Walks in the region.
Upon waking early in the morning, the first thing everyone did was check to see if the rain had abated.