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In Franz Josef, we are tucked up against the mountains but also close to the ocean, so weather tends to be quite variable depending on the time of day. We are finding mornings to be mostly clear with clouds rolling in by early afternoon.

We got up early this morning and made the drive to the neighboring town of Fox Glacier. As expected, we started off with great views of the Southern Alps.

Southern Alps including Mount Cook (Aoraki) and Mount Tasman

Because of its orientation, Fox Glacier is only visible from certain parts of town. By the time we arrived at the viewpoint, the clouds had already started rolling in.

Glacier viewpoint

Fox Glacier is one of the world’s fastest moving glaciers and one of the only glaciers in the world that penetrates a temperate rainforest. The glacier is significant to the Maori as the final resting place (moeka) of their ancestor Tuawe.

Clouds playing peekaboo around Mt Tasman.
Glacier view between the clouds
Lower section of Fox Glacier

The objective for the day is a hike around Lake Matheson, a typical alpine-type lake with beautiful mountain backdrop. The walk around the lake was through beautiful forest and past several viewpoints.

A suspension bridge starts the walk.

Often at dawn and dusk, when there are no ripples on the lake, both Mt Cook and Mt Tasman can be reflected in the water.

On a perfect day this is the mountain reflection – today was beautiful but not perfect.
Hard to believe there are mountains behind those clouds!

Called the View of Views!
There are fresh water eels in the lake. We were fortunate to see this photogenic guy as they are mostly nocturnal.

The forest was full of birds, including this wood pigeon. He is a bit more colourful than his cousin from Lake Moreraki.

Pukeko, called a swamp hen by the English

After a nice lunch at the cafe we visited a local park with a Māori art piece celebrating Aoraki.

The canoe (waka) has a great story. Aoraki was the son of Rakinui, the sky father. Along with his brothers he left the heavens in a massive canoe to explore the earth and the seas. Aoraki and his brothers became hungry and tried to fish for food but were unsuccessful and decided to return to the heavens.

Aoraki started the incantation needed to launch their massive waka back into space, but his courage wavered momentarily and he was distracted by the fearful cries of his crew. Only the bow of the canoe had lifted when the incantation failed, and the canoe crashed back to earth. The prow of the waka was smashed into many fragments, which you can see as the many islands and deep sounds at the north of the South Island.

Aoraki and his brothers were stranded in the ocean with no way to return home and eventually the broken incantation caused the canoe and the crew to be turned into stone.

The stern of the canoe became the South Island, and is known as Te Waka o Aoraki – The Canoe of Aoraki. Aoraki and his brothers thus became the first mountains in New Zealand, Aoraki being Mount Cook.

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