I spent a few days in Queenstown, but was spending too much money and overwhelmed by the amount of backpackers. In the few days I spent there, I went to a garden with strange-smelling roses, hiked the Queenstown Hill (pictured below), and ate a pretty declicious hamburger at Fergburger. I also got hooked up with a free boat trip to a farm!
Afterwards, I went to the Kepler Track, on of the Great Walks of New Zealand. Like the other walks, the price for a hut was way too expensive for me to do the whole thing ($130 per night), so I went to one end, hiked up 15km to the hut, and hiked back.
The first part of the trip went through a dense forest next to a beach.
A few kms of flat ground started ascending at a steady pace to the top.
The view remained largely unchanged until you got above the treeline.
The $130/night hut it all its glory.
I wonder how long it will take until people start hiring porters to carry all their stuff for them, not that I am bitter or anything.
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.