Franz Josef Glacier Township must be one of the noisiest places on the planet. Living under the flight path of Heathrow is mere drone compared to Franz Josef. We awoke to a beautifully clear morning, the campsite being overlooked by some spectacular snow-capped mountains with a crystal clear blue sky above. The crystal blue sky was an irresistible invitation to all those rich tourists who want an aerial view of the Franz Josef Glacier itself. The sky is constantly filled with the noisy chop, chop, chop of helicopters. It’s like Apocalypse Now. All that was missing was the Ride of the Valkyries; well, and maybe the 0.5 inch calibre machine guns, which had been replaced by cameras, hopefully.
Despite the constant drone above, the morning was delightful. Apart from anything else, we were so thankful for our apparent change in meteorological fortunes. We were planning to head over the Haast Pass to Wanaka, a distance of some 270kms so we had time to go and see the Franz Josef Glacier itself, which is just about 5kms from the township. We secured Busby for travel and set off via the local supermarket for some essential supplies, such as beer. We were ahead of the rush of grockels and got to the viewpoint all alone.
The Haast River is a narrow blue ribbon snaking sinuously down a white rock sided wide valley. It’s an impressive sight that the tourist board apparently thought nobody would want to stop and stare at. There are bugger all parking places and from most of the few that there are, the view is obscured by bushes. Consequently, photographing the scene is a touch tricky. Some sense of the colour maybe conveyed by this, though. The occasional jet boat screams downstream.
The problem was compounded by our trying to get into parking spots only too find no room at the inn. Maybe this was a combination of it being a sunny day and a Saturday to boot … and perhaps it being roughly lunchtime. By the time you’ve pulled into about half a dozen stopping points either finding no space or no view, frustration can begin to set in.
Crossing the col and descending towards Wanaka felt a little weird in that there was still a river but it was now flowing in the opposite direction. The change seemed seamless but there was the water going the other way. The valley opened up and we began passing a couple of large lakes, still sided by snow-capped mountains. This was the sort of scenery we’d come for.
The campsite was adequate by New Zealand campervan standards, though the pitch was only just as long as the van. Plugging in I had no electricity. I tried two other outlets and still had no electricity. Unscrewing the connectors on my cable, one end seemed insecure so I suspected a bad connection. With no toolkit, I could do little but push the cable home and attempt to secure it better. It worked. Phew, at least I can keep the beer cold.
We’ll be passing through Queenstown tomorrow where there is a Maui depot. I’ll see if we can get the cable swapped.