January 17, 2006

1/17/06 Franz Joseph NZ

79.4 km / 783 km total

Campsite in Hari Hari

Woke to another beautiful day. Grabbed a bite at the store before we hit the road. As we passed through town, there was a big sign commemorating the first Australia-to-New Zealand flight (11.5 hours) by Guy Menzies in 1931, that 'landed' in a field a few kilometers from here. Unfortunately for him, his impromptu landing site was a bog and he ended up flipping the plane.

We really only had one climb today and it was soon after leaving Hari Hari. We must be in a lot better shape because it didn't seem to be that hard for us. We had hoped for a fast descent down the other side but it was so twisting, you couldn't safely.

The mountains really seem imposing always on our left. But unfortunately the tops were shrouded in clouds.

Who wouldn't want to live here

We ran into Dan and Hamish in Wataroa when we stopped for lunch. The burgers at the store had: hamburger patty, bacon, egg, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, mushrooms and beets. I thought that was too much, so I asked them to take off the beets. [smile]

Hamish (NZ) Dan (Scotland)

Just a steady flat climb all the way to Franz Joseph. Up ahead we spotted a TV camera crew. Blair Ornish is a reporter for Channel One, and with his cameraman Dan interviewed us about our trip along the coast. At one point, they continued the interview while driving alongside of us. Cool.

Not sure what I was expecting but the sole purpose of the town of Franz Joseph is tourism, with the glacier upstream about six kilometers from the highway. After checking in at the motor park, I headed up to the glacier.

I walked the Glacier Valley trail which takes you right up to the base of the glacier. Even with hundreds of people on the trail, the sight wasn't diminished. Spectacular.

Walking towards Franz Joseph Glacier

There are several groups climbing on the glacier

Back in town, we ate dinner and did a little shopping. We discussed our options back in the room as the rain started coming down outside. We'll probably ride to Fox Glacier in the morning. It's only 23 km but it's a lot of climbing. We'll tent in Fox and take a day off so we can join one of the guided tours of the glacier. We'll just have to wait and see what the weather's like.

Now that's a great burger