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Now, this is the second Part of NZs Westcoast. I drove down from Golden Bay via St. Arnaud (for nothing) to Punakaiki for the Pancake Rocks and to Franz Joseph to do the Fox Glacier hike. A lot of more story's and pictures coming soon. Enjoy ready.

Cheers J

 

the place to be - Saint Arnaud - 10.4.2012

Ditta from Picton woke me up that morning by calling me. Everybody else was already gone from the freedom Camping Area. She was in Takaka, so also Goldenbay and wanted to know if I’d like to share petrol for a while. Of course I wanted to. Saving some money is always good. So I ate the dinner from last night, my rice-minced beef-baked beans combo, for breakfast, brushed my teeth at a small creek nearby and picked up Ditta from Takaka. One of the Townships where the Lonely Planet wrote it is so laid back that you almost lie completely. Meet her in Picton and we wanted to go the same direction. So we shared Petrol for a while.IMG_1233

We spent one Night in St. Arnaud. its nothing there, some walks maybe. But nothing special. The Town consists of 5 Buildings inclusive the main center of the Town: The Gas Station. Which unites a grocery store, fish and chips and sells fuel and car accessories. Everything of cause overpriced because of its remote position and the monopoly factor… The environment not too bad with the nice lakes and Mountains around but all in all not really worth a visit. We did a short walk at the lakeside until we were bored.

You get used to all of the amazing landscape here, so you always end up comparing the place you are right now with others you have been to. In the end you are not admiring the place you are as much as you should do. Anyway; we baked bread. Actually each of us prepared a bread dough. Mine Pizza Style, Dittas Bread Style with fried onions. We formed different kind of pizza dough buns and filled them with a minced mixture of tomatoes, onions, a lot of garlic, herbs and Zucchinis. IMG_1239

And the bread was perfect as well with its fried Onions in between. Yummy in the beginning. But after eating it for the next 3 days you get sick of the taste. In the Hostel in 90th youth hostel charm with round about 80 bunk beds slept only we two and a approx. 45 Year old Women with her two boys roundabout 12. She immigrated 10 years ago from Germany to live here in NZ a alternative self sufficient live on a small farm she is running with her husband. She had a lot of nice story's to tell. Ditta and I ate until we couldn’t take another bite of the buns, watched another Episode of “Mein neuer Freund” or a Movie, can’t remember and went to bed.

retreat in Punakaiki - 11.4.2012 - 12.4.2012

We left St. Arnaud as fast as possible the next morning. Aware of not having a lot in between Franz Joseph/Fox Glacier. Except the nice Street and the numerous stops we made. Even with this bad weather. IMG_1256

IMG_1263We picked one of the few Hostels in-between which are really good and made it our new target. Actually Punakaiki was it what we’ve tried to reach. Its famous for its Pancake Rocks and there is also a nice 3h walk through the bush next to a beautiful stream and a cool cave to walk around in and, and, and.

We went shopping for grocery’s in Westport on the way to our Hostel. In Punakaiki is nothing. Absolutely nothing at all. We ended up in bad weather stopping from now and then to admire the awesome waves smashing onto the cliffy rocks. IMG_1274

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Then we arrived at the most relaxing Hostel you can imagine the Te Nikau Retreat Center. It rained and it is located in a rain forest. So perfect fit. The Accommodation was awesome. Just two other inhabitants. Madelain a beautiful Swedish Girl (23) and a Bavarian guy, I already forgot his nameSmiley . Anyway. We ate our leftover bread until we were sick of it. We played Scabble the whole night until 2 am or so. And while doing that we’ve seen the 5th guest in our Cottage. The Mice, running around the kitchen when nobody else is running around there. Afterwards we went to bed before making sure the Food bags are closed and stored properly. Very funny beds. Not Bunk Beds, not normal beds. Just six mattresses on the topmost floor in half of the the corners of the sixagon building. Felt very alternative but cozy.

Day two of our retreat

IMG_1284We had a good sleep but not too long. Cause we wanted to do the 3h Day Walk next to a beautiful river and the Pancake Rocks with the Blowholes, a tour through the cave and visit the only pub in town. So a hole lot. We head … guess … our bread for breakfast. Yuk. Then we went by foot down the main Highway up to the start of the track and switched to photo mode and started walking. The first part of the track curled up close to a small windy stream. the second part was a standard uphill bush walk without highlights. Literally. The third parts highlight was the amount of sandflies. Just amazing. Anyway the first part counterbalanced the rest of it.

IMG_1304Afterwards we headed to the famous Punakaiki Pancake Rocks. Flat layered rocks at the Ocean  Each Layer stacked, wonder what, like Pancakes. But before we went to the Tourist Spot nearby the I-Site and the numerous Coaches with Picture addicted Asians we found a nice spot at the beach next to it. With the same kind of layered rocks but way less populated and more natural. But afterwards we had to visit the Tourist Attraction too. At least it is for free and located on our way back. It is definitely worth a visit. Fortunately we had strong high tide coming in which made the whole attraction even more interesting. There are a couple of weird rock formations causing the water which is clashing in and into specific angled gaps in the rocks causing the water to shoot up round about 15 meters and blowing steamy water fountain like out of the top of the Cliff. Wonderful Nature again.

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IMG_1337Next stop creepy cave. I expected to see some Weta’s but nada. We took our flashlights to inspect every gap and tunnel deep in the rocks to look for anything creepy. But we didn’t found anything. Just some small dripping water spots. Small streams and nice stalagmites … ahh. and before I forget. There was one Glowworm. Hopefully you will forgive me that I didn’t take a picture of it. But at least I took a very nice picture in the darkness. Sweat.IMG_1348

Last stop on that day before coming home to the Hostel was at the Main Pub in “Town”. The only one, but therefore a very decent looking one in a nice environment. The good old Macs Gold tastes after a long walk even better. We stayed until the sun went down and headed home. In joyful anticipation who is new in our Hostel. And today it was way more crowded than before. Less retreat and more talking. But again we had a nice round of random people talking and playing games. But first I cooked, pardon my own glorification, my delicious chicken curry. Yummy.

Franz Joseph and Fox experiences - 13.4.2012 – 14.4.2012

IMG_1326Still Petrol Sharing with Ditta we left in the morning our habitat. Sad but looking forward to our next stop. Actually I wanted to leave to Arthurs Pass. But somehow it didn’t work out Hostel wise so I decided against it in favor for heading directly to Franz Joseph with the slightly chance of stopping in Greymouth. Until we reached Greymouth. The way up to there had very nice passages but also some mediocre ones. The one which are you not attracting enough anymore. So instead of checking in to Greymouth we checked out of it as fast as possible. Greymouth is not worth a visit. Also bad weather didn’t improve the already grey appearance. Clouds all around. I don’t have any nice, okay, I don’t have any pictures of Greymouth. So I just added a picture from the drive in between to give you something for the eyes.

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IMG_1335We wanted to go to the Macs Brewery.to get a tour about beer brewing and of course for testing issues - the only interesting thing in Greymouth. But because of renovation purposes not possible to visit in this instance. So instead of that we went to another great institution. MC Donalds. But the Burgers are shit. Especially their new El Maco Burger. This one is almost as ridiculous as its name. I also got a tube of Voltaren to cure my foot. I somehow must have overstretched my foot.

We headed as fast as possible towards Franz Joseph. We took the first Hostel we found and “enjoyed” the funny free soup. At least we meet some new Friends. Two Israeli Girls, Ronja and Dana and Marco a Portuguese living in Swiss, a Sicily Women, lets call her Julia (something close Smiley)  and some other guys. Wonder what, we’ve played Scabble. For hours again until 2 again. And we had fun again. Playing Scrabble in English for non natives is pretty good. Especially the ideas and discussions. Looking forward to to a Glacier hike tomorrow I went to bed.

conquering the Fox Glacier

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Early awake we left as late as possible the Hostel to drive for approx. 40 min. on the nice highway winding up Mountains and down a lot of sharp turns down to Fox again. There we ended up in a School Class picking up our gear, eg. proper boots, too early until the guides found out we not belong to the teens. We waited until it was our turn to get the crampons, mittens, beanie's, jackets if wanted and walking poles. Well equipped we took our seat in the Coach to drive us for just 20 min. to the start of the Hiking track.

 

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We got separated in three groups of 12 Guys with each one experienced glacier tour guide. After taking in the beginning the official way we took a hidden sidetrack further up through a green tropical bush area (weird next to a glacier) over a 120m high Cliff down to the tongue of the glacier. We fastened our crampons onto our hiking boots and after short explanations what do do and what not we did our first steps on the ice. Our female tour guide always ahead making sure the ice is safe and from time to time preparing or improve the steps with a huge heavy axe.

Every morning some of those employees of the Fox Glacier Company get selected to go onto the ice at 6:30 am to prepare the steps from scratch for the day. You would probably say nobody would like to do this, like I though, but actually everybody wants to do this job as an alternation to the daily work they usually have to do.

 

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So we went first up the Glacier for a while, taking the steps, stopping now and then for the good and interesting explanations and facts about a glacier and this one in detail. The colors on the ice glimmering in the sun, sterling. Bright light blue mainly. After 1 1/2 h we passed one so called mulan. Its one of the dangerous things on a glacier where water is usually floating down a huge tube through meeting a bigger stream in the core of the glacier until the melting water is coming out as a stream and floating down the valley. We met the half day tour group and walk through the first safely passable tube out of ice, took pictures and headed further up the glacier.


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Almost no helping man made ice steps anymore and almost untouched ground beneath. At least it felt like that. Further up the ice and past numerous unique formations until we climbed into an more uneven steep and cracked open area. Way more interesting than the parts before. It felt very special when you stand back from the group. Nothing. Silence. There are no birds around an glacier. Just cracking noises and floating water underneath your feet. Magical. For sure worth the 159$ we paid.

 

 

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