Boots, warm clothing and a packed lunch were the order of the day as we were going to explore the Fox Glacier and Lake Matheson. When we left camp it was promising to be a good day weather wise but the West Coast can be so unpredictable.
Once off the State Highway the road up to Fox Glacier was unsealed with dense native bush flanking both sides. At certain points were signs indicating where the glacier had been in earlier times which showed how far back the glacier has receded. Arriving at the base car park the mountain view all around us made one feel quite miniscule. Some of the boulders or rocks that had broken away and come tumbling down to the valley floor were as big as houses.
The Department of Conservation staff have to review the situation daily to ensure that it’s safe for the public to venture up the valley to the base of the glacier. Only guided tours are allowed up onto the glacier itself due to unfortunate accidents in the past were people have been killed probably due to their own stupidity.
The 40 minute walk took us to within a couple of hundred metre’s of the glacier where everybody wanted to have their photo taken with the glacier in the background. The area set aside for viewing wasn’t that big so it was a bit of a jostle to get a photo within the designated area. After a short time we headed back to allow more people to get up close to the glacier.
We then travelled around to the other side of the valley to a different view point. This one was high on the hillside but gave us a different aspect of the glacier which couldn’t be seen from the first view point.
By this time we were getting hungry so we headed back to Lake Matheson where if the conditions are right you can get reflections of Mt Cook on the water. Today wasn’t that day as cloud had rolled in from the Tasman Sea and shrouded the mountain tops completely.
The walk through the forest to the viewing platform was interesting just seeing how dense the vegetation can be. At one point we were joined by a cheeky little Tomtit who flitted all around us and sat at Dot’s feet quite uncaring. After catching a few insects which we may have disturbed in passing he flew away just as quick as he had arrived.
After walking some 5 kilometre’s or more uphill and down dale we were pretty weary by the time we got back to camp where a brew up seemed more important than a beer. At least on this side of the ranges there were no clouds and the sun was still shining giving us a good view of the mountain tops.