Right, a bit on the late side but I've been wanting to but up some Easter photos for a while, with a quick outline of what we did so here it is I hope it makes some sense as the writing of it's been spread out over 3 weeks, and it actually happened over a month ago.
Easter Thursday we finish work and at Uni then headed round to Suva with our gear to meet up for the road trip. Tea was had there, some decent Chinese takeaways, and we started to load the car, Matt arrived after a bit and we loaded up the second car finished tea and headed off for the West coast, at this stage our group consists of Andrew, Alethea, Christina, Matt, Mike and my self. A decent length drive means we soon move on to discussing various things from homosexuality in the church and theology, to probability and physics (our car has a Bsc (Hons) COSC / BA Maths and Philosophy, Bsc (Hons) Stats + Mathematics/Biochem, Bsc Mathematics/biology, Bsc Biochem/genetics a decent mix for 4 people). Any way after 4 or so hours of discussion we reach Hokitika at about 10:30 and get the key to the cabin, the other car soon makes and and we quickly head off to sleep.
Wake up at a reasonable time the next morning 7am ish. Have breakfast and hop back in the cars to head south to Frans Joseph. The weather is lovely and we get some reasonable photos out the window of the car, and when we stop at one of the road side lakes.
The Road South
Arriving at the motor camp at Frans Joseph about 10:30am we dropped off our gear at the cabin and make lunch then head up to the Glacier. We get to the Glacier about 12 only to find out that the track we were intending to spend the afternoon walking up to above the glacier is currently closed due to damage some significant number of months ago (they're taking there time fixing it). None the less we decided to head up the track through the native bush until we reach the point where it's closed off. Along the way we get some nice photos of the glacier peeping out through gaps in the bush. One pool gives some especially nice photos. About 15mins up the track we come to the bridge over the Glacial river which is roped off and we turn back deciding to take the normal track up the Glacier's face.
On the Way to the Glacier
A quick rest on the way.
We get to the final warning sign about 100m from the Glacier about 1:30 after by passing the first couple of signs and having taken a decent number of photos. We spend a while there taking photos and eating lunch before heading back the cars. On the way back we spend an hour or so looking around Frans Joseph village before heading back to the camping round where we spend the rest of the afternoon napping or reading. After tea we spend a couple of hours playing games before heading off to bed early as it's been decided that we'll attempted to get to lake Matherson around dawn.
Glacial Rock (Alethea's photos)
Galcial Ice (10x Zoom)
Frans Joseph Panorama (Larger version available, 8000x2000)
Thus the next morning the alarm goes off at about 6am we stumble out of our sleeping bags have a quick breakfast and hop in the cars for the 30min drive to lake Matherson next to Fox Glacier. Unfortunately we get there a bit after sun rise, though with the over cast sky it seems likely we didn't miss much. None the less the lack of tour buses full of tourists and the still conditions means we get some decent photos of the mirror lake.
After which one car heads back to the camp and the other up to Fox for a quick look at the Fox Glacier. We can't be bothered walking all the way to it so simply settle for looking from the first rise on the track to the face. After which it's back to Frans Joseph as the weather starts to clear, we've now been as far south as we'll get this trip. After packing up it's time to head north. How ever a chance to do some Kayaking soon leads us off the main road to the large estuary and bird sanctuary. With the day cleared up we hire out some kayaks and move out onto the Okarito estuary where we spend the next two hours exploring one of the side channels that leads up into the native bush that surrounds much of the estuary. Thankfully it's just reached high tide and the winds not to strong so for the most part it's an easy kayak around with some breath taking views, of the Southern Alps and native bush. We really have to go back there for a weekend sometime and spend an day exploring the estuary.
Alps from the Estuary
Raft of Kayaks
Up the Creek and under the Road
A bit further up the creek
Back to land
After returning the Kayaks we head north stopping at Ross at 4pm for lunch and the odd photo before continuing onwards up to Punakiki.
Stopped at Greymouth to stock up a bit more food. Driving along the coast road north of Greymouth the sun was setting over the Tasman sea providing a lovely view.
A Visit to Ross
Sunset north of Greymouth
We finally got to the camping ground about 7pm just as night was falling, after checking into the camp to pay and be allocated tent spaces, we meet up with Jim, Joy and Reuban who'd come over from Christchurch to join us for the next two days. With the sun set we end up setting up tents in the Dark again something we'd sworn we'd try to avoid after Okain's bay. This time how ever with all the tents being dome ones it's much easier and we quickly get the 4 tents up for the 7 of us who are tenting. Dinner the next night at the pub is arranged, and a time agreed onto meet for the next day before we split up J&J heading off to their motel room. While the rest of us head off to make tea. After tea a couple of us head down to the beach for a brief walk, then those of us tenting head up the road to a glow worm cave, there aren't a lot of glow worms but still enough to be seen, the cave certainly is interesting enough though.
After it's back to the camping ground and off to bed for the night. Except for Matt who seems to find the beach interesting at night and heads down to it for an hour or two.
In the Cave
We're all up at a reasonable time and wander down to the beach after breakfast, to muck around for a couple of hours until it's time to meet up with Jim and Joy. The hour is spent wandering up and down the beach with grabbing interesting coloured stones and trying to avoid the waves. At 10ish we head back to the tents and prepare to head up to the pancake rocks. Once we've meet up off we go getting to the rocks at about 10:30. The next couple of hours are spent wandering around the rocks watching the blow holes, taking photos and buying morning tea.
With overcast weather, and some rain it's not particularly nice wandering around the rocks and by 12:30 we've had enough and head off to Jim and Joy's hotel for a lunch of Pancakes :-). After the pancakes have been cooked (thanks Jim!) and eaten. It's decided it's time to follow Joy's wishes and head to Cave Creek stream. Which is about a 20min drive north of where we are staying. Getting there about 3:30 we start off on the track through native bush finally arriving at the creek at about 4pm. The next 20mins is spent wandering around the stream and taking lots of photos of the native bush before we head back to the cars.
Arriving at the vehicles Andrew made the unfortunate discovery that his jersey had fallen out some where along the track, so he and Matt head back up the track to look for it. While those of us with camera's start walking down the road to try and get some photos of the interesting rock formations that line the valley. The jersey recovered we head back to get ready for dinner. Once every ones recovered we meet up with J&J and head to the local pub for tea. After which we return to our tents or hotel rooms for the evening this quickly converts to a game of RoboRally for a number of us, but soon enough every ones off to sleep at which point it does what it's been threatening to all day and starts to rain.
The next morning the weathers no better than the previous day and no one feels much like walking so it's decided to return to Christchurch via Lewis Pass and visit the Maruia Springs hot pools on the way. Thus most of the day is spent traveling with a couple of hour stop over at Maruia to enjoy the pools. We finally arrived back in Chch about 5:30 in the evening.