Russell Kirkpatrick's Journal
Today would have to be classified as a disappointment, as nothing fulfilled its promise. The drive through to the West Coast from Queenstown was magic, with a stop to take a photo of Arrowtown and later on of the Haast River – boulders the size of cars – but once on the Coast, things were abrupt and somewhat underwhelming. This from the place that usually surpasses itself.
We arrived at Fox Glacier about 1.30 and decided to do a glacier helicopter flight, including a walk on the neve (ice plateau) at over 2000 metres up the mountain. It was a great flight – we flew past Mt Cook (3754 metres, the highest in New Zealand) and landed under the shadow of Mt Tasman (3497 metres), having flushed a mountain Tahr and enjoyed lots of snowy excellence. So why did it feel so flat? Well, it was over far too quickly. We were back on the ground a bare 30 minutes after we left. Worse, the pilot did not switch off the helicopter while we walked on the ice, so there was no sense of being in a pristine environment. We felt very much the intruders.
So we decided to drive to the snout of the glacier to see it up close. Problem was, the access track is closed. No access closer than one kilometre. This outrageous state of affairs is because two clowns got themselves killed by an icefall at the beginning of the year. I’m a damn geography lecturer, I know how to handle myself, so why should I be forbidden access? Truth is, this is convenient for DoC staff who can ease back a little with no track to maintain.
Argh. Well, let’s go and walk around Lake Matheson and see if we can see the famous reflection. I enjoyed this but Stuart, with some childhood idea of primordial forest, was rather underwhelmed. I think the West Coast rainforest is very beautiful, myself. Photographic evidence attached.