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oct 14, 2000
Natalie arrives! Te Anau & a night on Milford Sound ... (more)

oct 12, 2000
Invercargill, Athol flat tires, and snow on the long route to Queenstown ... (more)

oct 11, 2000
Multimedia schools, museums, and the streets of Wellington ... (more)

oct 08, 2000
Museums and windy beaches in Palmerston North ... (more)

oct 06, 2000
Graphic Arts at Whanganui Polytech ... (more)

oct 04, 2000
Biking n' Hiking in Taupo ... (more)

oct 02, 2000
Build me an ark in Rotorua ... (more)
october 15, 2000
Yesterday's drive was a long trip bringing us to the town of Wanaka at nearly dark. photo here The town is nestled against Lake Wanaka, with a massive backdrop of the snow covered Mt. Cook and its other Alpine cousins. Catering to tourists, it is a much slower pace and less commercialized place than Queenstown.

photo here We found a hotel perched on the hillside with a splendid view. Only in New Zealand can you arrive late, call in to the manager, and have them say, "Just let yourself into unit 6 and we can settle up in the morning." That's what makes New Zealand such a welcoming place.

photo here For an evening activity, I accomplished my civic duty by completing my absentee ballot for next month's US elections. As a side philosophical question, I have never sorted out how I am supposed to make an informed decision about the approval of some 30 plus judges. Next, time I will try to know them better!

today's photos
- all photos   o o o o

o o Wanaka
o o Franz Josef Glacier

In the morning we had a great breakfast at a local cafe. We felt more confident in our coffee "lingo" requesting our "flat whites" or "mocchanio". The baked goos in these types of places are nearly always out of this world- we bought some humongous chocolate chip "biscuits" (we would call it a cookie). photo here After that we picked up a pile of gifts and neat stuff at the Artisan's Co-op, which features the works of local artists. Situated in an old house, we had no trouble finding many interesting items- some of which would not be feasible for suitcases!

Just as we headed out of town towards the West Coast via Haast Past, it started to rain, the likes of which would continue for the next 2 days. It was too bad because what we could see through the downpour was some pretty dramatic valleys, lakes, and somber mountains.

We continued on, through Haast and finally to the coast. Late in the day we arrived in the area of the glaciers that come from the mountains down to almost the sea. There are two main glaciers withing 30 kilometers of each other, Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier, both of which have villages of the same name at their feet. Due to weather, our plans for a helicopter ride were dashed. So we booked a nice room at the Punga Grove Motor Lodge in Franz Josef Glacier and opted for the next best thing to seeing the glaciers, a movie called "Flowing West" in a scaled down IMAX type theater. We thought it would be a nature feature full of information about glaciers, but it more or less a sales pitch for the types of trips they booked (in better weather days). Natalie and voted this movie a big Siskel and Ebert thumbs down.

photo here Natalie and I did do something we vowed we would never do in anyplace near home- we bought matching tops, nice warm, wool material that layers nicely. We had decided we would each buy a t-shirt for each other, but we ended up both desiring the nice wool.

For dinner, we almost had no options. No one in the shops would strongly recommend among the 3 or 4 restaurants, so we started walking and looking inside a sad cafeteria, a grocery store (cook our own), and a pizza joint. photo here The last spot we tried was the Blue Ice Cafe, and certainly was a cut above almost any food we had on the trip. Afterward we hung out in the upstairs bar and traded travel stories with a nice couple from England.

The next day was less rainy but still with not enough visibility for a helicopter flight. I was pretty disappointed, but the weather is way beyond my control. photo here We opted to drive to a trail head that takes you to the edge of the glacier. It was still very chilly (but we had on our warm wool) and half way there a cold rain commenced that again never really stopped.

photo hereThe route eventually takes you to the rocky rubble at the base of the icy tongue. It's hard to imagine that this is a moving entity, but the evidence is above, adjacent, and below your feet. Glacial meltwater charges out of a cave near the base of the glacier terminus, forming a charging river below as it is appended by water falls from the sides of the valley.

This was to be our closest encounter to the glacier. Although the weather forecast called for some clearing, it was not very promising, so we headed north towards the town of Hokitika.

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