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Excerpt from the Journal of Olds – Day 284-285 – New Zealand – Fox Glacier & Franz Josef Glacier

We got up early and made our way down the Lake for sunrise on our last morning in Wanaka. It was thankfully worthwhile and afterward we rolled back for breakfast before heading to the edge of town to visit Puzzling World.

Rob had raved about the place and we’d heard of it from a few others. If I were to be polite I’d say it wasn’t my cup of tea and it’s probably best that I leave it at that. Half of it is an aging museum of puzzles of varying levels of interest mostly focused on optical illusions. The other half is a good and thus simultaneously annoying maze within which we located all four corners quickly but then spent far too long frustrated attempting to get out. Eventually we exited without cheating but for the way it left us feeling we would have been far better kicking the walls in until we found the car park. If you’ve got kids and / or you’re particularly interested in such things then it’s probably a diversion worth taking; to go against Rob’s Recommendations is rare for me so it’s most likely a reflection of me that I didn’t like the place.

Onward we drove stopping at the Blue Pools which is an intersection of waterways involving very blue water and some pretty big fish but not much more. When we arrived at Fox Glacier we pushed immediately on and ventured out to Lake Matheson, famed for its reflective properties. This wasn’t very good at all but then we were late in the day and losing light rapidly. Back in Fox we settled in for the night and the next day set about deciding which glacier to visit. We chose Franz Josef and coasted over there (giving a young hitchhiker a lift in that direction while we were at it) that morning. We were booked on a helihike in no time and had time for a quick coffee before heading over to get kitted out with the appropriate safety gear.

We were amongst a fair sized group of like-minded people and once assembled trotted down to the helicopters for transfer up deep into the Franz Josef glacier. I’d never been on a chopper before so it was a great start to the activity to be lofted up into the air before spinning on a dime and hurtling off in the direction of the ice. Once set down we waited for the other half of the group before setting off out over the glacier. Our guide was great and took us around all the latest caves, nooks and crevices over the course of the tour. It’s massive and a weird landscape to smash your crampons into and navigate around. I really enjoyed the spectacle but before long it was back down to town and all over.

A lot of the group seemed of the same mindset and moments later we were in the pub. After a few cheeky beers it was back to our van for a bit of dinner before a planned regroup over at the hot pools, the admission to which was included as a bonus to the days hike. Most of the hikers made it and it proved a nice relaxed way to end the day.