Thursday, August 30, 2012

Murchison, Pancake Rocks and Driving to Fox Glacier

Well we made it! After kayaking yesterday, we drove 2 hours to Murchison so that our drive today would be a little shorter.

We stayed in a tiny holiday park located on a farm. Jay loved all the animals and, of course, had a load of ducks following us around in no time. In the morning, we made sure to feed Old bread to the lambs, emu and deer. It was really cool petting all the animals we keep seeing in the fields!

Then we were off! The south island's landscape is very different than the north, the best way to describe it is it is "more dramatic". Below is a fun sign we saw, penguin crossing! We've also seen kiwi, cow and elderly crossing.

After a few hours, we made it to one of our anticipated breaks, Pancake Rocks.

It was a nice break. We took a twenty minute walk around the little park and learned all about the rock formations before eating lunch. The waves crash into the rocks in giant sprays and during high tide, the water shoots way into the air through blow holes (we missed that, unfortunately).

You can see why they are called pancake rocks below. They are layered, showing where the rock was pushed out of the ocean over millennia. There is actually mud between the layers that has fossilized.

This part of our journey reminded both of us of California's Route 1 but with a bit more vegetation and built for function, not so much beauty. There was a lot of driving through fields that just happen to have the ocean near them.

But don't get me wrong though, this drive was beautiful! At some points we were next to mountains that rivaled the Alps and within an hour we were on beautiful beaches.

When we reached Fox Glacier, we had a little bit of daylight so we headed out on a short hike. Fox Glacier is the only part of New Zealand where you can go on 5 distinctly different hikes within 20 mins of each other. They have the glacier, rainforest, glow worms, beaches and one of the top 10 most beautiful lakes in the world. Unfortunately it was overcast, so the lake was not reflecting the Southern Alps which is why it's considered so beautiful.

Our walk through the rainforest was beautiful and we got to walk over another swing bridge (I told you there are a lot of them). In1987, the Glacier reached through this canyon almost to the road. It takes about 5-6 years for the water to effect the glacier, so if there's heavy rain this season, the glacier will advance in 2017.

After all that walking and driving we're tired. Plus we have a long day ahead of us. Stay tuned for our adventures on the glacier!