Monday, January 9, 2012

December 6th: Nelson to Franz Josef

I guess it was too much to hope for two nice weather days in a row in Nelson; when we woke up it was raining. Again. Oh well...that doesn't make breakfast any less tasty!
This street stretches really far down and is lined with shops; the side streets are packed with cool things, too.

After breakfast we checked out of the hostel and hit the road. We had to be in Franz Josef by the end of the day, so we had a full day of driving ahead of us. There was plenty along the way to break up the drive, though!

Our first stop was Nelson Lakes National Park. After saying hello to some baby ducks...

...we took a few minutes to enjoy the view of Lake Rotoiti before setting out on a short hike through the woods. It started to rain partway through so we turned around.

Visibility started to drop pretty fast, so we hit the road again.

That delicious thing on my plate is a lammington. I'd seen them in a few bakeries and finally decided to try one when we stopped for lunch. It was FANTASTIC. It's a spongy white cake covered in chocolate and coconut. Omnomnom...

Mark made the mistake of petting this cat, who interpreted the affection as an invitation to share his lunch.

After a little more driving we reached the West Coast and stretched our legs at Punakaiki. The rocks here look like stacks of pancakes, and when the waves hit some of the blowholes just right it sounds like thunder.

The pathways give you a great view from several directions, and we lucked out: the rain stopped just long enough for us to walk through the whole thing and get back to the car.

Another leg-stretching-oh-my-goodness-let-me-out-of-this-car-for-a-minute break: Lake Ianthe.

After a couple hours the scenery really started to change. We reached the Southern Alps!

This was our view for the last hour or so of driving. Bananas. This is the Whataroa River.

Finally - we made it! Franz Josef is an awesome little mountain town; next time we're in NZ I want to spend a few days here. After finding a hotel (which, like the others, was ridiculously nice) we went to the Blue Ice Cafe and had some fancy dinner and wine while looking out onto the snow-covered mountains at the end of the street.

We finished dinner just in time to enjoy the sunset. Awesome. :)

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