Franz Josef Glacier and the Mosquito-filled Van

Walking through the valley to get to the Franz Josef Glacier makes you realize how truly small we are.

The main 45 minute walk leads you to a small viewing platform below the glacier. There are some nice views along the way,

but the large flock of people at the end makes it difficult to enjoy.

A five hour hike (round-trip) on a different path

leads you to a platform with many fewer people, and a much better view.

Helicopters frequently pass overhead, carrying the wealthy to tramp around on top of the glacier for a few minutes. The helicopters give a sense of scale of the glacier, barely visible despite the red coloring and blinking lights.

A friend recommended me to stay at a free campsite next to a lake twenty minutes north of Franz Josef. I obliged, and we made a nice campfire and dinner with water that never seemed to boil.

We chatted with some locals cruising around in their tender going who knows where.

The night was spent in fear as hundreds of mosquitoes made their way into my van. I spent twenty minutes trying to kill then all, but their numbers never seemed to dwindle. Instead, I dawned as much clothing as possible and slept face down, almost no skin exposed.

I woke up the next morning covered in bites.

Cape Foulwind and the Pancake Rocks

I haven’t had cell service in a week, so I am a bit behind on my posts.

On the Westcoast of the South island, there is a lighthouse called Cape Foulwind. Wonderful name, subpar lighthouse.

There also is a seal colony nearby, where I counted no fewer than fifteen lounging among the sun-heated rocks.

I liked this tree.

Further south, there are rock formations called the pancake rocks, named such for the unique wearing pattern of the rocks themselves.

It is a short walk with nice views.

Koahaihai

Luckily, the rain abated for the day I was at this campground, including during a spectacular sunset.

I tried to start my van the next morning, only to discover the battery was dead.

Got a jump from a friend and moved it over to do the hike.

The hike is the start of the Heaphy Trek, a four-day “Great Walk.”

The scenery is beautiful. I was hiking with a wonderful woman who saw the beauty in every tree and flower. It made me appreciate the scenery around me a bit more.

The hike ended up taking a good portion of the day.

Unfortunately, it was too rainy to see another sunset, but it was still a nice, relaxing evening.

Oparara Basin and Lord of the Sandflies

My friend Pedro just finished his tour around New Zealand. As he was going about the South Island, he was sending me GPS coordinates of his favorite places. His other gps coordinates had been spot on, so I made it up to the one he sent a few hours north of where I was staying.

I arrived at the point and was greeted with…an intersection. Nothing special about it as far as I could tell. I snooped around for a bit, but didn’t have any clue where he could be pointing me.

I decided to turn off the GPS and just follow the road. I ended up down a rough dirt road at the Oparara basin.

On the walk to the basin, I ended up waist deep in water. My jeans did not take it well. You didn’t have to get wet, nor did anyone else on the trail end up wet, I just must have misheard some local’s directions. Whoops.

I took the long way around to dry off.

Afterwards, I headed to the nearby campsite Pedro also recommended a nearby campsite, called Kohaihai. The campsite is my second favorite in New Zealand, after the Spirit’s Bay near Cape Reinga. The beach stretches as far as the eye can see, and huge waves break one after another against the oversized rocks.

The campsite really looks like it should be in that episode of Black Mirror with the couple who is in the idyllic world and it turns out they are actually old and a copy of their consciousness lives on in the idyllic world after they die while Belinda Carlise’s classic hit “Heaven is a Place on Earth” plays in the background. Yeh, you know the one.

Cool place.

But the sandflies. Man, they are out in droves. They’re like worse, harder to spot mosquitoes. Bug spray doesn’t seem to work and they manage to sneak in everywhere.

But still, cool place.

Lake Rotoroa

A short post for a short day.

I’m making my way south to the glaciers, but frequently distracted by signs, bringing me to Lake Rotoroa.

It was raining the entire day, with fog set against the forested mountains.

I also met a nice family to do a short hike with. They were well traveled and know a lot about the world. And politics, unfortunately.

Good day.