Friday, September 5, 2014

Friday: Fox Glacier

Up early and had breakfast at the Lake Matheson Cafe, where I was expecting a gorgeous view of Lake Matheson, but found a boggy lawn instead. I had a nice breakfast anyway, and then explored one of the walking paths around the lake, which turned out to be a bit into the woods.

Me, at Lake Matheson

Back at the hotel, I talked to the clerk about options for helicopter rides over the glacier. It's low season, and the companies that offer the rides need a minimum (usually 3 people) to go out, so he offered to call a few companies for me and see what they had available. I headed off to do the walking trail to the glacier. It was about a half-hour walk each way, with sections marked "No Stopping!" where rock falls are common. This glacier, and the neighbouring Franz-Josef glacier up the road, and unusual in that they come down into rainforest, almost to the sea.

Me, in front of the front edge of Fox Glacier

While looking at the glacier I chatted with a family from England, and mentioned that I was interested in a helicopter ride. 

Back at the hotel, nothing had developed in terms of a ride, so I went for lunch. On my way to lunch I ran into Paul, the dad of the English family, who said they were also thinking about a helicopter ride, perhaps just for he and his wife, or maybe their son would go skydiving instead. In the end they all decided to do the helicopter ride, and we joined up together for that after lunch.

I had done a flyover of a glacier in Alaska, in a small plane, and I expected this would be a similar experience. Boy, was I wrong! The helicopter flew much closer to both the glacier and the surrounding mountainsides, which gave up fantastic views and a little extra excitement. It was a 20-minute ride, with a stop on top of the glacier where we basically stood in the snow and looked around for a few minutes. It was quite a thrilling ride, and the views were amazing. I'm  using up a lot of my lifetime allotment of "wow"s on this trip.

Our chopper. (Clint, can you tell the model?)

Fox Glacier from the chopper

Fox Glacier from the chopper

[I have lots of photos, some better than these, but of the 60+ photos I took today, only 10 have synced so far]

Had a drink with Paul, Andrea and Max (their son, who has been living here this year, and is a climber!), picked up a few groceries and filled the car with petrol for tomorrow's trip, and then retreated to my motel for a siesta. Back out for a decent dinner, and then back to relax before an early bedtime, hoping for an early start on tomorrow's drive of close to 8 hours - my last long drive of the trip.

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