West Coast Adventures (Pt.1) – Midnight Kiwi Hunting and Melting at Franz Josef Glacier

The West Coast is a haven for hardcore hiking enthusiasts and wild people who are genuinely in love with the mountains. You’ve got to be wild and hardcore to put up with the sandflies and frequent rainfall here anyway!

So these three wild and hardcore (but probably just crazy) girls decide to do three equally wild and hardcore (crazy) hikes in the areas around Franz Josef and Fox Glacier.

Join us on our adventures (Pt.1)…

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Franz Josef

Okarito.

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Scarecrow… I think…

We had plans to walk Robert’s Point Track to see the Franz Josef Glacier, after a beach camp at Okarito that night. The campground was well maintained with showers and even an old-fashioned laundry squeezer. It was really popular as the only one in Okarito, and the three of us managed to persuade two innocent Swiss lads to accompany us on a midnight Kiwi hunt up the steep Okarito Trig walk.

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Bridge to Okarito Trig Walk

Kiwi birds are sensitive to bright white light, so our makeshift attempts to turn our headlamps red meant that these lads were being escorted into the night by weird little-red-riding-hood ladies…

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Alex dressed to the 9’s ready to attract those Kiwis ❤

Sadly, our headwear didn’t do the trick.

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Robert’s Point. Franz Josef.

The sun was gleaming, underwear drying in the backseat of Subalou, we were ready for a 5 hour hike to see Franz Josef Glacier.

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Peter’s Pool

 

Our tramping began with a glimpse of mountains reflected in the still waters of Peter’s Pool.

We were to hike through this valley when long ago it was filled with glacial ice far above our heads, extending right out to sea.

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Robert’s Point heart-racing swing bridges!

This adventure is not for the faint hearted, when I wasn’t worried about trusting my feet scrambling up every slippery granite rock, I was scaling a long narrow swing bridge with dizzyingly long drops. Luckily for me, heights are fun.

(I don’t recommend this hike in the rain..!)

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Wooden bridge clung to the side of the cliff in the valley

The trail became far more fun when we passed a small hut midway, which lead us to this AWESOME wooden bridge, clinging to the side of a vertical drop down into the valley.

The views along the entire way are of the dark forest filled valley, as we challenged ourselves by clambering over more limestone and granite. Sweating from the sun and hopping from boulder to boulder, we escalated further towards the cooling depths of the valley. Yay.

The glacier was starting to affect the temperature here as we advanced. Stopping to fill up my water bottle, I decided that I needed more of a cool down and managed to dip my entire leg into a freezing pool of one of the mini waterfalls along the way. *slow clap*

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Franz Josef Glacier

The hike finished with a viewing platform that jutted out of the treetops like a sore thumb in the forest. However, it was much needed as the view from this crowded area of exhausted lunch-munching tourists was astounding, and sad. Alex pointed out that only a couple of years ago the glacier filled up more-so into the valley and there was visual evidence that not long ago this ancient blue ice would have brushed the tree-line. It was shrinking fast.

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Seemingly endless waterfall next to Franz Josef Glacier

My favourite view from up here was actually this incredible 5-tier waterfall, the endless stream of water coming from the glacial snowmelt and rainfall.

Maybe this too, once the glacier has disappeared, will be a distant memory in the future.

 

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To be continued next time with our adventures along the Copeland Valley Track to Welcome Flats Hut!!

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