Franz Josef and Wanaka

14th – 17th July 2016 

We arrived in Franz Josef around lunchtime all feeling very hungover from the previous night at Lake Mahinapua. Before checking in we all went to sign up to various activities for the following day, the most popular (and the one I chose) was the Ice Explorer – a helicopter ride up onto the Franz Josef Glacier and then a three hour walk across it.

After checking in Daniel went straight to bed and me and Nicola decided to go out for food at a little place called The Landing. We spent the rest of the afternoon in the massive 20 person hot tub with everyone which definitely cured my hangover. For dinner that evening we all put our names down for the Pizza Fest which included a beer, fries, garlic bread and unlimited pizza – some of the boys managed around 15 slices of pizza! We went to bed praying for good weather the next morning otherwise our ice explorers would be cancelled.

Throughout the night we were woken several times by the storm outside, it wasn’t looking good. As soon as I woke up I ran outside to check the weather and it was actually looking ok! If you have ever been to New Zealand you will know how quick the weather can change, the phrase ‘4 seasons in one day’ is used quite a lot over here, so hopeful that our tour would be going ahead we all got up and walked down to the office to be told ‘no it’s cancelled’ S**T! Apparently the weather was fine to do the tour but because of the rain all the pathways throughout the glacier had been destroyed so people were being sent up there to cut out new paths before the tours could resume. It was such a shame as the Franz Josef Glacier was top of my to-do list in New Zealand and due to limited time in Franz that was our only opportunity to do it 😦 We decided to make the most of our day anyway and chose two walks to go on.

The first walk took us along the Waiho River to the start of the Canavans Knob Walk which was a 20 minute climb to a viewpoint at the top with views of the glacier.

As we were unable to actually get on the glacier our next best option was the Franz Josef Glacier Valley Walk which takes you alongside the Waiho riverbed up to the terminal face – you can’t touch or get onto the glacier due to safety reasons but the view we had was breathtaking.

The furthest point of the walk

The following morning we left Franz early and made our way to Fox Glacier to do the short walk to lake Matheson, a mirror lake.

Fox Glacier

The walk didn’t take long and we were soon at Lake Matheson. When we first arrived there were some ripples on the water which stopped the perfect reflection but we hung around for a while and soon got the perfect picture (I promise I have not edited these pictures one bit) – we had the best day for it! The mountains you can see are Mt Cook and Mt Tasman.

After our short stop it was time to carry on down the rugged coastline along the Haast Highway,one of my favourite drives in the whole of NZ. We had quite a few photo stops on the way, each one just as beautiful as the last.

Thunderclap Falls

After our lunch stop in Makarora we carried along a strip of land called ‘The Neck’ only 1000m wide. On either side likes Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea. The views were absolutely unreal, I just can’t get over how beautiful this country is. We slowly made our way into Wanaka and had a pretty uneventful evening.

Lake Wanaka


Lake Hawea

Before leaving Wanaka and making our way into Queenstown we stopped at Puzzling World which is home to the worlds first 3D maze, 5 optical illusion rooms and a cafe full of puzzles.

We had two more stops before Queenstown – Mrs Jones fruit stall and the Kawarau Bridge. The fruit stall had some really cheap delicious fruit & veg all locally grown – Daniel brought some nectarines which were lovely until he forgot about them and found them days later covered mould! The Kawarau bridge is home to the worlds first bungy so we stopped to watch Maddy and San, two girls from our bus do the jump!


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