It's all about the weather. This is the dilemma of hiking in Westland National Park. Fox and Franz Josep glaciers are very approachable and accessible for sightseeing. That is if you don't mind the sweat labor involved in getting to a viewpoint. I don't mind as long as I score a BIG Ohh Ahhh scene. I batted .500 for the two.
At the trailhead for Mount Fox, there's a Warning sign. It reads: “this trail has limited track formation and steep grades. It is suitable for fit, experienced, and properly equipped people.”
The route is a total grunt hand-over-hand full body workout. It's 3,800 feet of up in a scant 2.4 miles. There's mud too, and not the exfoliating your skin kind. This is ankle deep goo capable of sucking your trail runner right off your foot. Like it did to me. OY!
Ahh! But the views at the top on a Kiwi-speak "Fine" day was worth the gallon of schvitz (Yiddish for perspiring profusely).
See for yourself.
Mount Cook is out there somewhere. (Sir Edmund Hillary trained on Mount Cook in preparation for his historic Everest accent). It's covered in White Death/ice and way too cold for me.
Onto Franz Josef for hike numero dos. The Weather Channel was predicting a mix of clouds and sun for my mellower 12 mile RT hike up to Alex Knob point. They lied. I left in a foggy mist and returned in a foggy mist. There were no glacier sightings. There were no scenery sightings unless you count walking through another dense, dreary and gloomy temperate rain forest as scenic. By now, I'm sort of over this particular ecosystem. I'm sure it's a whole lot cheerier to tramp through on sunny days, but I wouldn't know.
For the record, I've been in Franz Josef town for two days. I've seen a glacier for about fifteen seconds. The other sights are heaps of green covered mounds that are shaped like ice cream scoops. (Maybe glacial moraines?) All that's missing is a few dollops of chocolate sauce to make them look sort of edible.
Mother Nature works in strange ways.
Next stop Arthur's Pass National Park and maybe some "fine" weather,