Tuesday, March 12, 2013

West Coast and the Glaciers

I have been a major slacker lately, where my blog is concerned. Mainly because I haven't had a lot of time, but also, on the south island, internet access is a lot harder to find for free.  I am going to try to do some catching up. After the Luminate Festival and working at Waterfall Bay dinners I started traveling along the West Coast of the South Island. People say that going along the West Coast is one of the most scenic drives in New Zealand. I have to agree, because it was quite beautiful. It actually reminded me a lot of the west coast of Washington State. The rock formations, beaches, colors, and the way the water moved, all looked so familiar. What was pretty different here was the plant life, it had almost a tropical look to it because of the fern trees and flax plants. One of the highlights along the way down is pancake rocks, which are some unique rock formations. Here are some photos of that area:
A view off the west coast
Pancake rocks
More pancake rocks
Me looking casual at pancake rocks
Pretty tropical looking right?
Sunset on the west coast
After pancake rocks I took a day to make my own knife. That is right, I made a knife. It was really cool, you start with a piece of steel which you heat up in the fire and pound it into shape and also pound in carbon to make the steel stronger. Then we made a handle out of native wood, polished, and sharpened our blades.  Here is a before and after photo of my knife, along with the group of people who made one with me.
After - pretty cool ay?
Fun group
Further down the west coast are the glaciers. There is the Franz-Joseph and the Fox glaciers. They are unique because they exist at such a low altitude and are also very close to the sea. The landscape around the glaciers is also pretty spectacular. You can pay hundreds of dollars to walk on them or fly over them but I chose the free option of just walking within a couple of hundred meters of them. I figured I have glaciers at home if I really want to walk on them.
Waterfalls on the way to Franz-Joseph Glacier

Approach to Franz-Joseph Glacier
Me with the Glacier
Fox Glacier
That night I stayed at a free campsite with a couple of German hitchhikers that I had picked up.  It was beautiful - that night we got to see a beautiful sunset with the mountains behind us.

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