Wednesday, 9 November 2011

NZ: the Road to Franz Josef

One of the high points of our trip was the helihike to Franz Josef glacier.  We looked forward to it with much anticipation as we approached the last few days of our trip.  We took a bus from Queenstown to Franz Josef along a famously scenic route. 

Just one shot of the miles of vineyards we saw along the way - 

The bus stopped briefly at Wanaka to pick up passengers.  We were allowed 5 minutes to stretch our legs.  Here is a shot of the tranquil lake -

We continued along the shores of Lake Hawea - a beautiful lake in a glacial valley.  This shot was taken from the bus - I would have given a lot to be able to get off and take more photos.

Same lake, from another angle-

One of the many spectacular mountains we saw along the way

The bus driver got off at Haast Pass, the pass that took us across the Southern Alps.  A friendly young driver hopped on and took us from here to the coast.   The road followed an ancient trail used by the Maori in their search for pounamu or greenstone.

Looking down from the bridge -

The waterfall near Haast Pass and the famous blue pools fed by glacial waters -

We reached the western shore of the South Island.  Here's a view of the Tasman Sea.

The Tasman Sea from another lookout.   To our surprise, the driver took us onto the beach to hunt for greenstone after lunch.  What an unusual and hospitable gesture!

Could it be Mt. Cook in the distance?

Next post:  the much anticipated Franz Josef Glacier!

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