January 4 -- Fox Glacier

written by bryan on January 10th, 2009 @ 02:17 AM

Bryan & Bethany from Fox Glacier

Today was another travel day. We caught the TranzAlpine train to Greymouth. Crossing the southern Alps is a spectacular journey although the mountains are not as rugged as the Rockies. Bethany spent most of the time in the observation car taking pictures and was wind-blown and gritty afterwards.

One of the most spectacular things about the rail trip is a sudden and magical tranformation as you pass through the last tunnel to go from the eastern to the western side of the Alps. On one side, it is an alpine meadow with cattle and sheep. On the other, it is rain forest with the mountain-sides green with forests (I think beech).

From Greymouth we took the bus to Fox Glacier. Again there were a couple of sections that did not agree with our stomachs. Unfortunately we need to go back over the same road for a much longer journey in a couple of days. I attempted to sleep most of the way. Bethany watched the passing scenery and listened to the driver’s commentary which included a lesson in the local botany. The road from Greymouth was surprisingly flat for most of the distance as it followed the coast and looked like it would be easy to cycle. With the exception of the two stomach-twisting sections that yawed, pitched and rolled simultaneously.

The weather did become increasingly cloudy the further south we went. No rain though. However, this area is a good vantage point for Mount Cook, or Mount Aoraki, which is the tallest mountain in New Zealand. But it needs to be clearer to see it!

Fox Glacier, the town, is small and neat. The environs look very pretty. We have a jam packed day tomorrow, so hope for nice weather!

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