New Zealand, Day 4: Franz Josef Glacier, Lake Matheson, Lake Wanaka

This post is Day #4 of a series of blog posts documenting my road trip to New Zealand from 12/23 – 1/2. For deets on the actual trip itself, click here.

When I first heard that I’d be spending Christmas at a glacier, I was expecting something in a similar vein to crazy cold blocks of ice reminiscent of Antarctica. Franz Josef Glacier, though, feels less icy and more … rocky. That is, less of what you’d expect of a glacier:

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To be fair, I visited during the summer, but, come on, this is one area where rockslides are the most dangerous threat (they really do mean it when they say: ROCKS FALL, EVERYONE DIES). It still doesn’t detract from the fact that it’s stunning as hell.

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This might have been the 4th eggs benedict that I had in New Zealand? Whatever, man. Like I’d pass up eggs benedict with salmon, like this one from 88 Asian Fusion Restaurant.

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After our brunch, we drove to the Fox Glacier area, where we spent the afternoon walking the length of Lake Matheson, which is famed for its perfect mirror-like reflections.

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Verdict: noooot quite “perfect”, thanks to the wind and its endless ripples, but gorgeous nevertheless.

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That night, we were expected to get to our lodge at Lake Wanaka, except for one thing: Haast Pass closes at 6pm. With only 90 minutes to drive through Mt. Aspiring National Park, we were majorly pressed for time. As in — we’d probably be bumming it in Mt. Cook if we didn’t get past the construction on Haast by the late afternoon.

AKA: we were screwed.

So you can probably imagine: lots of SHIT SHIT SHITs as we put the pedal to the metal. There was no time to stop and smell the roses, but even though the outside of my car window looked like a fast-forwarded replay of a National Geographic special, the point is, the outside of my car window still looked like a National Geographic special.

Sheep! Mountains! Deer!

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And we made it! By the time we got to Lake Wanaka, I think I became dead-set on one day retiring and buying a nice summer house here. Look at that water. Either that, or I was so happy to not be pulling a Nascar on the hairpin turns of a bunch of mountains anymore. Either way, arriving at Wanaka was everything I needed and more.

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Unlike the cityscapes of Christchurch and Auckland or the deep-in-the-woods feel of Franz Josef, Wanaka felt decidedly more suburban: lots of quiet neighborhoods overlooking the lake. And with that, I spent that night searching up fun (read: CRAZY) things to do for the next day in Queenstown, only the extreme sports capital of the world.

2 comments on “New Zealand, Day 4: Franz Josef Glacier, Lake Matheson, Lake Wanaka

  1. So beautiful! I’d love to visit New Zealand once. It’s got everything and it looks so peaceful! Great photos 🙂

    • Oh, you’d love it! 🙂 New Zealand is one of those places that manages to pack every single natural wonder you can think of but remain one of the chillest places ever.

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