New Zealand Nov 2004 trip – Glacier village

This is part of some travelling notes I wrote exactly 4 years ago for a trip to New Zealand in November 2004. Please enjoy the story.

Day 6, 11 November 2004, Thursday

Woke up at 5:45am before the wake up call at 6:00am. Ate the sandwiches I bought last night, which were pretty tasteless. Decided to check out early. Paragliding and jetboating, NZ255.00 translating to about $300.00 Singapore dollars. And the uh blinds “damage” I wrecked (nothing was deducted for it. Whew.)

Checked out, boarded the coach and yes, got a left window seat (prospects of viewing the Tasman Sea on the left). Left Queenstown at 7:40am, and made a brief 10 minute stop near Cromwell (Jone’s Fruit Stall). Nothing much to see, so didn’t bother climbing out of the coach.

Grape fields
Grapes, for making wine.

Sheep blocking road

Sheep blocking road
Coach-stopping sheep.

Somewhere on the ride, the coach slowed. What happened? Sheep happened! This herd of sheep wandered onto the road and rendered the strip of asphalt impassable. I don’t know if there were farmers or shepherds around, but the sheep dog was doing okay.

Puzzling World
Puzzling World.

Passed Luggate and Wanaka airport. Passed Puzzling World near Wanaka town, where one can see water running uphill.

Lake Wanaka
Lake Wanaka

Vincent at Lake Wanaka

Met a Mexican couple who helped take a picture of me at Lake Wanaka. Then we moved on and had another 10 minute break by Lake Hawea at 9:37am.

Ship crossing lake
Ship crossing Lake Wanaka. Or Lake Hawea. Can’t remember…

Makarora Country Cafe
Makarora Country Cafe.

Passed Albert town, and then saw Lake Hawea from afar. Stopped at Makarora for 20 minutes (10:34am). No money to buy anything. Oh yeah, stomach’s growling now…

Mountain, river, flat land

Haast Pass sign

Thunder Creek falls

Thunder Creek falls sign

Passed Makarora River while crossing bridge near Haast Pass. Stopped at Thunder Creek Falls at 11:30am (10 minutes) for more pictures.

Haast town outskirt
Rest stop at outskirts of Haast town. Took hot chocolate break on the other side of the building (right of picture).

Passed Haast town, then stopped at outskirts of the town (12:20pm-12:50pm). Finally got a hot chocolate for NZ3.00 and shared table (all other seats taken) with the Mexican couple from Lake Wanaka. They’re here for a honeymoon (two weeks in New Zealand, one week in Melbourne). They’re going to Franz-Josef Glacier, then taking TranzAlpine Express, then fly to Melbourne.

Around Tasman Sea shore

Around Tasman Sea shore

Around Tasman Sea shore

Around Tasman Sea shore
Tasman Sea and surroundings.

Coach continued journey and stopped for a scenic break (Tasman Sea!) from 1:10pm to 1:25pm. We moved again and passed Wakopohi River, then Lake Moeraki (means sleeping by day. Could be only 2 metres deep in some places).

Salmon farm
Salmon farm.

Crossed the Paringa River and stopped (again!) at Salmon Farm (2:13pm to 2:34pm). The nice Mexican couple actually offered me food! Uh, I sort of mentioned I was flat broke during my hot chocolate respite with them… I turned down the offer (a bit embarrassed). They just got married on 30 October. They’re good people. *sniff sniff*

Passed by small town of Bruce Bay, Parakeri Creek and Jacobs Rivers School. Alpine Fault extends 600 kilometres all the way to Milford Sound. We are now at the western side of Southern Alps. Annual snowfall at Fox and Franz-Josef glaciers: 45 metres. The two glaciers actually reach all the way to the rainforest region. The only other glacier doing this is in South America, Patagonia.

Passed several strips of water next: Mai Mai Creek, Dusty Miller Creek, Karangarua River, Black Creek (water’s really black!), Ohinatamatea River, Cook River (Waheka) and Fox River. Somewhere during the succession of creeks and rivers, we picked up someone in like the middle of nowhere. She came up, couldn’t find an empty seat, and plopped down beside me. She put on her head phones immediately.

Things were a little quiet until we reached the Fox Glacier village. During the time between letting off the first batch of tourists and the second (my stop), I found out the young woman beside me had been hiking up Mount Tasman. 17 kilometres up and 17 kilometres down! Wow. She’s going back to her hostel at Franz-Josef village.

Rainforest Motel room
Behind the counter is a small fridge where I kept the muesli bars and biscuits. That sink was where I ate my breakfast/dinner muesli bars and biscuits…

A pure shower! I’m sick of two-in-one shower/bathtubs…

The open nature of the room.

Rainforest Motel sign
Rainforest Motel. Love this place!

Fox Glacier town map
Fox Glacier town map.

Reached my stop, said goodbye to her, passed the Mexican couple (they’re asleep) and checked into Rainforest Motel at 3:30pm. It was drizzling. I got room number 1, and it’s the most unusual place I have ever stayed at. Spacious and transparent (the entire room is visible if you don’t draw the curtains). I rested for a while since it was raining anyway, and my legs and feet haven’t quite recovered from the Dunedin walkathon and Queenstown gondola trek.

Rain stopped. I went to Alpine Guides to place a reservation for the glacier walk tomorrow. It’s fully booked!! Argh! Oh no! The lady at the counter can put me on a waiting list (Amazing Race déjà vu here) on the 9:30am and 10:30am walks. I was the third on hold for both full day (6 hour) walks. Seeing my disappointment, she said she could also put me on the 1:45pm half day walk, which I can be confirmed for. I agreed and thanked her. With a heavy heart and equally heavy feet, I went in search of dinner.

Fox Glacier Visitor Centre
Fox Glacier Visitor Centre. Not a lot of people this time of year.

Walked around town first, though the main purpose is to check out the dinner prices. I’m broke, remember? Everything’s expensive. I resigned to my fate and chose The Plateau. Sat at the restaurant from 4:35pm to 5:00pm (dinner’s served at five). Read through some of the problems in my Amazing Logic Puzzles book. 5:00pm came, and I ordered a smoked salmon (NZ15.50), and when she asked what I’d like to drink, I said orange juice. What was I thinking!! NZ4.00 gone. I only realised what I did five minutes after I ordered…

Finished dinner and went to local general store. Bought 8 Mother Earth muesli bars (NZ4.05, apricot and yoghurt) and 12 peanut-chocolate biscuits (NZ3.60). Went back to Alpine Guides to ask if being a Thrifty Tours (my tour package) customer gave me a discount for the glacier walk (it’s written on my itinerary. Any discount’s good at this point.). She said yes (NZ5.00 off the NZ85.00 price), and asked if I wanted to pay then. I said I’m actually on the waiting list. She checked, and told me I’m now in! I’m on the 10:30am walk! Yay! I paid the NZ80.00 with a lighter state of being (the glacier walk was the highlight of my trip).

Football field


Fox Glacier-Weheka school

Local residents

Horse and rider

Walked back to motel, and decided to walk a little further to see what’s up. And the fact that it’s still early, and I’m still kinda depressed about my current financial quagmire. Took some pictures of local school children at outdoors games lesson, cows, and a horseback rider. Then I went back to the motel.

I took out everything I’ve got. NZ33.85. Well NZ33.75 and … an American quarter. I guess the general store lady either couldn’t tell the difference (the NZ0.10 has similar size and colour as the quarter), or they’re of equal value. Or she’s conning me.

I gathered my receipts and notes, and added all my expenses. They pretty much add up. So tomorrow’s breakfast, lunch and dinner are gonna be a mixture of Snickers bars, muesli bars and biscuits. Took out one muesli bar and 4 biscuits to eat. Gonna have to eat like this till I reach Christchurch two days later…

I don’t have to wake up early tomorrow. Nothing to do, nothing to see. I was told a bus can take me to Lake Matheson and back. But it costs NZ10.00. No option there. So I’ll sleep in a little, and rest my weary body.