The Fox Glacier hotel was a pleasant surprise, since I last stayed there in december, the refurbishmentisnow complete, and really does do justice to such a historic building. trouble when you sleep so well, there are several hours which one cannot lavish in the knowledge of being in such an awesome place. When one is awake most of the night, one can hear all the sounds etc.
After a huge cooked beakfast, some of the team did a scenic helecoptor flight, but with the cloud base lowering, they were fortuneate enough to take in al the sights of the longest Glacier in the region.
at 9.30 we all reported to Fox Glacier Guides, where we were rigged up with boots and wet weather gear and anyother equiipemnet that may be required. we were introduced to the team from the CEO and down. then into one of their fleet of buses to take us to the Glacier car park. We were divided into two groups of equal numbers, but we could choose, either with a young female guide, (around 25 perhaps) or an 'old guide',Rodger, who is 60. I thought to my self about the joke about the young bull and the old bull, so i decided to go with the old bull,at least i would have a better chance of keeping up.
so off up the river bed and past the barriers where people are advised to never proceed beyond unless with a guide.
we were then told that ahead of us were were about to climb 700 steps, about 300m above the river bed before entering the ice.
even considering our stops to take in the view and short rests to make sure our hearts didnt overwork, by the time we reached the glacier ice, we were right behind the team with the young bull. so the theory was right about the young bull and the old bull. slow and easy did it.
theice wasnt significantly different to that of franz, but
the views of the surrounding mountains was quite different when viewing the huge glacial scratches horizonaly done by pre historic gian glaciers maybe millions of years before. The walk down was also 700 but we didnt need to stop for as many rests.
www.foxguides.co.nz Half day hike
Adult: NZ$ 89.00 (GST incl.)
Children: NZ$ 65.00 (GST incl.)
Family: NZ$ 243.00 (GST incl.)
( Valid from 1 Oct 2008 to 30 Sep 2009)
A short dive to Vist Lake Matheson and enjoy a coffee and bite to eat at the matheson cafe, A new building with awesome views of the mountains and farms. the weather was beaking, and with so many old bulls in the team, there was to be no walk to the lake, we would only be able to imagine any reflection as we could no longer see the mouny=tain tops and the wind and rain was increasing.
back to franz joseph, and check out the hot pools which were newly opened in May 2009. what a way to soak those aching muscles which had never climbed a mountain for many years. Beutifuly set in the the native rain forest, and about 40 degrees.
the amazing thing about how these pools operate is that each day the water is fully removed from the pools, filtered, then stored in an insulated holding tank till the next day. It is easier to maintain temperature ( use less energy in heating) than leaving the water in the pools.
Adult Single Entry $22 . 50
Child Single Entry $16 . 00
Private Pool - 45 Minutes $40 . 00
(Price per person, min 2 persons, includes public pool entry)
Accomodation for the night was at the franz Joseph Glacier Retreat, a huge modern country lodge set in 300 acres.
There is a wide range of accomodation with each room being named after peioneers of the glacier region
All beds are King size in the luxury rooms one complete with four poster bed.
the full cooked breakfast
Prices range from $350 - $750 per room per night
The road back to Greymouth was at a leisurly pace stopping of the greenstone carving studios. twice daily, a half hour tour telling of the history of Pounamu aka greenstone, jade, nephrite jade.
the tour showed the huge greenstone boulders being cut down using diamond tipped saws, down to the production of pendants and jewlery plus sculptor work.
the familarisation was through Tourism west coast with members involved in the tourism industry from accomodation to photographic studios, activities to transport
transport for the familiarisation was provided by west coast shuttle