It is 9:30 at night. It is still light. I am sitting on the back deck of our motel looking out at the mountains surrounding the Franz Josef Glacier. There are exotic birds singing and I can hear the roar of a glacial stream nearby. The crazy thing is, that this alpine setting is filled with rainforest flora like giant ferns. It is so incongruous. It is unique.
The eastern side view
But as soon as we started to descend the western slope there were palms and ferns everywhere and a solid mass of forest. We have spent the day on the finest roads the south island has to offer. They are two lane. The bridges are for the most part one lane and you never know until you get to it whether your direction is expected to yield (“give way” is the term they use) or has the right of way. And, of course, all of this is done on the left side of the road driving a standard shift. It has been a challenging day.
When we got to Hakitawa I turned in and left Hunter sleeping in the passenger seat while I walked out to view the Pacific. Huge tree trunks and other fabulous driftwood littered the beach. The West Coast is decidedly funky and laid back.
The geological story of these mountains is very interesting. While at lunch we browsed through a book at the inn about how these mountains were formed. A few interesting facts: Before it eroded, this chain of mountains shot up 20 kilometers into the sky … that is into the stratosphere. All this erosion has left a deposit of sand and silt in the ocean that does much to form off shore
Tonight at dinner I tasted