We awoke in Franz Josepf to a beautiful, clear morning and once again hit the road. It was a grueling day on the road, but with several beauty breaks that made it all worthwhile.
Our first stop was Fox Glacier. While this glacier was less spectacular than the Franz Josepf (in my opinion), I did have an experience there I won’t soon forget. As I was walking with my group up toward the glacier, a man coming the opposite way passed me, then came up behind me, grabbing my shoulder. He got in front of me and touched my tiny name-tag with both his hands. I would have been freaking out if I hadn’t been with the ladies from my tour bus, who immediately noticed and surrounded us. The man, with a French accent said, “This name, it is French.” I replied, “Oui.” He asked, “Parlez-vous Francais?” I replied, “Oui, un peu.” He stared at me for a few seconds, then decided that I wasn’t French and rolled his eyes, threw up his hands, and stormed off. One of the Aussie ladies I was with immediately asked, “What was that?!” I repeated what happened in English and the ladies all agreed he had been completely inappropriate in grabbing me and handling my name-tag. After the ladies all informed their husbands of what had happened they came back to let me know they would be on watch to make sure nothing like that happened to me again. We were all able to laugh about it; but I know I would have been pretty uncomfortable had it happened and I was completely alone. Traveling with the tour group was definitely a safer idea.
From Fox Glacier we traveled to Knight’s Point, with a gorgeous view of the Tasmin sea. The color of the water was simply insane. Turquoise just seems insufficient.
At this point moving from a glacier to the beach and then the rainforest was beginning to seem normal. We stopped at Thunder Creek Falls for a quick stretch of our legs to see the cascading water and walk through dense rainforest.
New Zealand has a crazy number of ferns for being a colder climate. They grow very tall and seem almost alien at times.
We had just enough time to throw our bags in our rooms (see the view from my hotel room?)
and we were off to catch the gondola to the top of the mountain
where we caught a Maori Haka (sorry for the blurry pics, no flashes were allowed and they kept moving!)
and a ridiculously overpriced dinner for the options if you are gluten free. The view was gorgeous, though, and we even saw parachuters coming down in front of us.
It was days like this where I think the beauty of the country kept me going. Having 10 minutes at a comfort stop (potty break) that was surrounded by snow-capped mountains and shimmering lakes goes a long way in restoring you. I wish I could have bottled the air to bring home. Unfortunately I did not remain immune to the local allergens as long as I would have liked, so I had to add a trip to a chemist (pharmacist) for a different anti-histamine in order to continue enjoying that fresh air. I would gladly trade in itchy eyes and the sniffles for such an amazing experience.