Continuing our New Zealand journey from Queenstown, we made our way to Franz Josef via 5 hour road trip. Check out my Queenstown blog. We took a side trip to Pancake Rocks in Punakaiki, where rocks look like they are flatten and piled on top of each other, like pancakes. They are actually limestones that are slowly being chipped away by the crashing sea. The blowholes were quite cool, especially when the light touches and form a rainbow.
Franz Josef is a glacier on the New Zealand land. You don’t get to see glaciers up close, near to a city and walkable. And it is slowly shrinking due to global warming, so now is the time to check it out before it disappears. If you want to walk on the glacier, you will need to take a helicopter ride with a guide for safety reason. You can also opt to have a free 30 min walk from the park to the glacier but it stops at the edge of the glacier for your photo-op. Fox glacier is another place to check out. Both glaciers are 24km apart from each other. We choose Franz Josef since it is nearer to Nelson, our next stop.
We wanted to take our chance with the helicopter tour, because let’s face it, when do we get a 2nd chance to be walking on a glacier? But because I was still toying on wanting to spend 450++ NZD for an hour heli-tour, I only decided the green light when we were on our way to Franz Josef and it was sold out by the time we went to book at the visitor center. I guess it is a sign that we were not meant to shell out our hard-earned money and go for the free hike. It was still awesome. The hike was actually on the ground where the glacier ice has melted. After many years, the rocks are now covered in moss; waterfalls and rivers surround the area. The place had its own beauty. The glacier looked dangerous and beautiful, does that make sense at all?
We stayed in Sir Cedrics Chateau Franz Backpacker and Motel. It was quite cheap 62.51 SGD for 1 night. It can be even cheaper if you opt for backpacker bed. We chose the motel room with bathroom since I am still not comfortable sharing shower and toilet time with others. The room came with a fridge and a small pantry with sink. Breakfast was bread and cereal while dinner was stuff we bought at the grocer for a quick cook meal. The door was a glass door…I guess it is normal for a motel room? We can use the common kitchen and utensils. I would say it is not bad for the price but it is not my kind of stay. The town was small, everything you need is on one main road
After a night’s rest, we set off to Nelson, which was a 7 hours drive. This place is special for us as this is where we will be getting our wedding bands from the original ring maker for LOTR, Jens Hansen. We stayed at Arcadia Motel, which is a family run place and the owner was such a helpful man. He showed us which restaurants are his favorites, nice walk around the shore when the tide is low, a hike to the center of the New Zealand (it was cool) and local brewery, Sprig and Fern Tavern for good beer. The room was also quite big, airy and bright. We even got a small living room and mini kitchen with utensils! The bed was soft and nice. All for 104 SGD for 1 night. I made sure to put on a review to help this guy’s business grow. We ate at Smugglers Pub, for some huge bone licking BBQ ribs and burger, and Urban Oyster Bar and Eatery for delicious oysters. There were LOTR locations in Nelson but time is ticking and we have a schedule to follow.
The awesome trip is still awesome so far. Next stop is Picton where we drop the car and take the ferry to Wellington, the next LOTR destination. The ferry was 53.85 NZD, in case you are wondering 😉