Cape Foulwind, Pancake Rocks, & Fox Glacier
Haast Travel Blog› entry 19 of 34 › view all entries
After leaving Able Tasman, we headed down the west coast. Our first stop was the seal colony at Cape Foulwind, Westport. Unfortunately, there wasn't much to see. When I was here in 1996, the rocks were covered with seals (Easter Time) and this week.. There was just a few weary moms resting with their pups.
So we left and headed to the Pancake Rocks. They are layers of limestone rock where the sand/mud between the layers has eroded quicker than the limestome layers.. thus creating the pancake look. The ocean is crazy here! The waves pound into the rock with swells that would delight any adventure surfer! It was awesome to watch the ocen just destroy the rock as it pounds into it creating caves, eroding layers, reshaping the cliffs and coast. Slowly little islands of the tall rock layers are being carried back into the sea and soon will no longer be there.
Next we headed to Greymouth. Pretty much that was just a stop over for a little sleep before driving the rest of the way to Fox Glacier. There are 2 glaciers to see- Fox or Franz Joseph. Both start way in the Southern Alps and reach down all the way to sea level. One Maori legend states that their was a young girl who loved playing in the mountains. Her boyfriend was not so fond of the mountains, but because of his love for her he would follow her on her journeys. One day, he fell from the edge and died. The young woman cried over him and the gods saw her suffering and turned her flood of tears into ice which formed the glacier to remember her loss. Ok, so I am a little sentimental and think that is a sweet story.
We went on a half day glacier hike. It was cool to be out on the ice. The glaciers here are advancing, which is really cool. They can advance about 15 feet per day. At the front of Fox Glacier the ice was calving repeatedly.. which was cool! The noise was thunderous! You can see the gravel at the front being pushed forward by the glacier. The ice at the front of the glacier is estimated to be between 200 and 1000 years old. The glacier is 13 km long currently. They said their has been a lot of rain/snow in the mountains in the past years causing much snowfall which is the reason the glacier is advancing. Ironically, he said the glacier is advancing due to global warming. They did have a bad snowfall season last year and the guide said that will not reflect in the glacier for 5-7 years. So, it could recede then due to last years weather.
Well, we found a little hostel in Haast to crash in for the night. We were going to drive farther, but the rain was so thick we couldn't see any of the 60 million sheep that dominate the landscape! If you can't see a sheep every second of every minute of every day in New Zealand then you either a sleep or its raining! Ok, the point is it was raining really hard!
Off to Wanaka next...