Wednesday 4th November 2015
11.11.2015 16 °C
We are leaving Franz Josef today and ironically the weather has chosen to clear so we woke to a bright and sunny morning. Although it is a shame that we had not had better weather whilst we were here it was promising something a little better for when we arrive in Wanaka which is our next destination. In the meantime we were able to appreciate the mountain peaks of Franz Josef whilst walking to the bus stop in the centre of the town.
Ours was the first pick up point of the day and so we could pretty much sit were we wanted and thinking that this would afford us the best views we had opted for seats on the left hand side. There was a bit of a debate as the bus company have introduced a no food policy after a number of spillages had stunk the coaches out. Some of the non English speaking travellers seemed very confused and quite determined to take their food on board rather than have it stowed away in the luggage compartment. Eventually the driver seemed to get his point of view across and everyone got back on board the bus.
When we first left the town we crossed some farmland in the northern end of the glacial valley and then a couple of small streams on our way to the town of Fox Glacier where we had to pick up a few more people.
As is the case with Franz Josef, it appeared that the glacier itself was quite a long way from the town. I didn't think the town looked as nice as Franz Josef but maybe having stayed there I am a little bit biased. We could still see the mountains on our left as we passed over a number of pale milky blue melt water streams.
As we travelled further, the road ran nearer to the higher peaks and the streams became more like rivers. Not long after we crossed the Karangarua River we arrived at the coast near Bruce Bay. Like so many of the beaches in New Zealand this was littered with drift wood washed down the rivers.
Shortly after this we turned inland we pulled up at the South Westland Salmon Farm and Cafe just before the wide braided Paringa River for a comfort break. We crossed another couple of rivers, all flowing northwards into the Tasman Sea, before arriving back at the coast again at a place called Knights Point.
We stopped again so that we could have a view of the coastline and the nearby seal colony which we could just see basking on the sand in the distance. The next time we turned inland we were alongside the wide Haast River which is near the location of another scenic lookout known as the Thunder Falls in the Mount Aspiring National Park.
We stopped here long enough to go and look at the falls and for our driver, and the one going towards Franz Josef, to swap over so that they could then drive back to their start points. Once our driver and all us passengers were back on board we continued by the Haast River until which we reached what is known as the Haast Gates. This has a series of cascades and it also marks the start of the Haast Pass.
At about 1pm we stopped at a cafe in place called Makarora where we were able to buy lunch. From there it took us about half an hour to get to the northern end of Lake Wanaka. Due to the topography we continued for a few miles along the eastern shore of the lake before the road turned and went up and over a pass called The Neck and back down onto the western shore of the neighbouring Lake Hawea. Lit
For the very last leg of the journey the road travels inland southwest across farming land near the Hawea River until we finally arrived in the town of Wanaka at about 2:30pm.
We got our bags off the bus down by the lake shore and asked the driver if he knew where our hotel was located. Rather frustratingly he sent us slightly further round the lake than we wanted to go so by the time we realised our error and walked back, dragging our bags behind us, we were feeling a little weary. We were compensated when we checked in and were shown to our room, which was upstairs and on the corner with great views of both the lake and the mountains. Once we were settled in we thought we ought to confirm our cruise on Doubtful Sound as instructed on our voucher. We were very upset and concerned when they told Nigel that we weren't booked in. When they made further investigations they found that we had been booked in twelve months previously. After a couple of conversations back and forth they said that they could accommodate us in a quad room and after further debate they were able to put us in a quad/ family room that meant that we wouldn't be sharing with anyone else and that would have our own bathroom.
To be fair it wasn't their fault and we knew fairly early on that the error was made by our booking agent (a large and reputable company with a branch in Norwich). I was doubly annoyed because they had so little to arrange as I had booked almost all of our hotels. We contacted them through their emergency contact number and told them what we had been able to secure and asked them to ensure that the money they had taken from us went to pay for our newly booked cabin, and also we asked for some explanation/ apology for what had happened. This cruise is one of the highlights of our while trip so this issue has been pretty upsetting. We didn't feel much like eating, but we went out to a local restaurant where I order some lovely lamb chops and Nigel had some sausages. We both felt pretty full by the time we went back to our apartment we were still feeling a bit down in the dumps.