January 30, 2020 –
After our rainy drive yesterday, we were delighted to see the mountains above Franz Josef this morning.
Franz Josef Glacier hike
We had an early start for our walk to the Franz Josef Glacier viewpoint. I remember thinking, as we walked up the Waiho Valley, that this was our best hike so far!
The trail emerges from the forest at an overlook that marks the advanced position of the glacier in 1908.
We continued walking up the glaciated Franz Valley on sediment eroded from the mountains above.
We reached the river crossing, and continued walking up the valley.
We passed waterfalls and beautiful, glacially polished schists in the valley walls.
We reached the end of the trail, the closest viewpoint, due to safety concerns.
The bare scraped rocks and talus piles were covered in colorful lichens and mosses.
We continued walking on the local trail network to a couple of other viewpoints, first to Sentinal Rock.
We continued on a short distance to Peter’s Pool.
By the time we were leaving the area, the clouds had moved in again among the peaks. I’m glad we got an early start to our day! (Hike#6, 5 miles, 400 feet)
Alpine Fault geology interlude. I loved learning about New Zealand geology on this trip. I didn’t research much before our travels. As the landscape unfurled before me, I enjoyed looking, learning and speculating. Now I am investigating in more detail as I process my photos and thoughts. I learned in Franz Josef that the giant, active Alpine Fault runs right through the center of town. The Alpine Fault is a major transcurrent fault and tectonic plate boundary between the Pacific and Australian plates. The Southern Alps are constantly rising along the fault zone that connects subduction zones to the north and south. The metamorphic rocks I saw along the Waiho River were deformed along the plate boundary.
On with our tour:
After our hike we continued south on Hwy 6, with much beautiful scenery ahead for the day. Our guide spotted and pointed out many recent land slips in the mountains, and we had several road repair delays. There had already been flooding this year, with more to come! But we didn’t know that yet.
We stopped for a walk around Lake Matheson.
Farther south on Hwy 6, we stopped at this clifftop viewpoint over the Tasman Sea.
The highway descended back to sea level. Our stop at Ship Creek was our last chance to walk on a West Coast beach before we turned east to cross the mountains at Haast Pass. We climbed up the Observation Tower for a wide view, then spent a little time on the beach.
Onward! Our views were diminished by clouds as we headed east into the mountains.
We made a brief stop in Mt Aspiring National Park to see Thunder Creek Falls.
Our overnight destination was a lodge at Makarora.
We would be headed to Lake Wanaka tomorrow.
Note: The most difficult thing about these posts is paring down the photos. I love to remember every view!