We had 3 main goals of sights to see along the West Coast: the Fox Glacier, the Franz Josef Glacier and the Punakaki or pancake rocks. Being the glacier fanatic that I am, I could not pass up an opportunity to see temperate glaciers. What is better? On the west coast you can enjoy the trees, ferns, and other greenery right alongside the glaciers!
Enroute to the glaciers we passed through the town of Haast. Apparently there is more to the town than we saw (a gast station, small store, and a motel). However, we really just wanted to take a break from driving and spend a few minutes on the beach.
|My mom trying to hide from the cold winds on Haast Beach|
Although there are many of glaciers in the mountains in the Southern Alps of the Westland National Park of the South Island's West coast (I believe it is something like over 100 glaciers), the Fox (Te Moeka o Tuawe in Maori) and Franz Joseph Glaciers (Ka Roimata o Hinehukatere in Maori) are among the largest and most accessible. The Fox Glacier is currently 13 km long and the Franz Joseph is a whopping 20 km long! The area is fairly well controlled and regulated in terms of where you can go (unless of course you spring for one of the many tours). However, via the free tromping path you can get fairly close to the glacier's mouth. It made for quite a few good pictures!