Dreaming in New Zealand: Glaciers, Arthur’s Pass & a bit of Christchurch.

Continuing our journey on the South Island we get all around the Southern Alps and to the rough west coast where the world’s most accessible glaciers are located. The scenery remains outstanding and the sights of the exposed glaciers at such low, nearly sea level altitudes is something remarkable.

For some reason this does not seem to be a good summer holiday destination. I might be wrong though.

Let’s get through the woods to catch a glimpse of the Fox Glacier. Unfortunately this is as far as we can get to this wonder. There is an option to catch a helicopter ride and land on top of the glacier, but it is not a budget venture as you can imagine.

I adore the ferns. They are so common in New Zealand.

The Fox Glacier in it’s obstructed glory! It’s a bit far to actually admire it, but we will have a better opportunity with The Franz Joseph Glacier.

Let’s zoom a little bit.

The next stop will be Lake Matheson, also called the Mirror Lakes. When the weather is clear and there is no wind, the dark coloured waters reflect the mountains perfectly. It’s only a short walk from the parking so definitely worth the trip.

The lake. Almost no wind! Unfortunately the clouds covered the higher parts of the Southern Alps and the Mt Cook was not visible (usually visible to the right above the trees).

There was a little pathway all around the lake making it a great opportunity to get closer to the nature as well as take some more lake and mountain photos.

Unfortunately the higher parts were still covered, but you can imagine there is much more behind the mountain ridge you can see below.

Another shot of the Fox Glacier. We are nearly at the sea level now, so you can see what I meant by being very accessible.

Luckily about 15 miles up north we can find the 2nd glacier, called Franz Joseph Glacier. You can get much close to it on your own, however you will not be allowed to climb it unless on a guided tour. Again, the quickest way is to fly there.

The valley carved by the glacier. It used to reach as far as the below photo was taken and even further. The glacier has been shrinking and retracting for a few years now and the speed has only accelerated.

This was as far as we, random people, were able to get. Apparently also for our own safety.

So all the rocks below were transported by the glacier. You can imagine how massive it was.

As we carry on North towards the Arthur’s Pass the weather is a bit more merciful.

Small town of Hokitika was a great stop to refill and buy some groceries before heading through Arthur’s Pass. It’s a hefty 4h drive from the town.

Looks good ahead! It is another scenic drive. I could not afford to stop anywhere for any longer than a few minutes, but some views demanded much more time.

I believe the below sight is a postcard picture from the pass.

Hey misty mountains…

This looks like a little glacier remains or a stone fall.

The weather got worse as we approached Christchurch.

With much regret I had to leave Christchurch the very next day I arrived there as I had a flight from Queenstown to catch. Christchurch is amazing in its own league, but the city suffered a great deal of pain caused by a deadly earthquake in 2011 which killed 185 people and injured thousands. There are many scars and empty lots in the city that will hopefully be sealed in time, but the beautiful memorial built in the city centre will make sure the lost lives are never forgotten. A prime example of strong spirit is the temporary cathedral, also known as Cardboard Cathedral built with said cardboard, polycarbon (roof), timber and steel. The cathedral was designed (for free) by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban after the main Cathedral was heavily damaged in the 2011 earthquake. It is simple, but understanding the circumstances and materials used, it’s actually quite a marvelous building.

This is what the roof beams look like when cut in half:

This is what the roof is made of:

There are many deserted buildings and ruins in the city, but surely life will flourish here again.

Damaged ChristChurch Cathedral.

The city is lucky to have adorable trams! Some go right through buildings. Interesting!

I feel like I have not presented the city in a fair way (due to the time constraints), and the gloomy weather is making it look like a miserable place, but I have heard great stories about Christchurch and its people, so this should only be taken as an inspiration to discover much more the city has to offer!

I must admit as the weather got worse and it started to rain it made the visit to the earthquake memorial even more touching. It is located on the banks of this beautiful canal.

The earthquake memorial.

I did not get a chance to jump on the tram mentioned earlier, but it had put a smile on my face as I waved the city goodbye!

Thanks for popping by,

Adrian


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