In leaving Wanaka, we now begun the intricately researched part of our jaunt. Farm Girl had been pretty flexible in our stops, wanderings, and whims thus far (as long as we stuck to her budget), but now she had the reins firmly in hand. First stop, before we’d even left Wanaka, was Puzzling World with it’s crazy maze and even crazier illusions. We opted for the illusions first
before tackling the maze. I read a quote somewhere (I thought I’d photographed it, but no) from the creator of Puzzling World, Stu Landsborough, along the lines of mazes being more psychological than physical workouts and we can now testify to the truth in this. It was hard but we persevered and managed to make it to each corner and then the exit without shimmying under or clambering over any barriers when shimmying and/or clambering seemed to be the order of the day.
Then it was time to gather our strength as we travelled an hour down the road to the Blue Pools track. Some of our feet protested a little, but the views along the way quickly quietened them.
We felt it sensible to obey the signs; they left little to the imagination
and thankfully we made it back to the car in one piece.
Then it was just a matter of doing the long haul to Franz Josef, the main reason for the trip, and a place of which we’d heard mixed reviews.
During the two days we spent there, we found it to be a lovely, laid back place full of really nice people who, despite deeply and obviously feeling the pinch of the current lack of busloads of tourists, were keen to treat those that did venture to their place with their best selves. The service, wherever we went, was amazing and as for the environment – breathtaking!
We were so very lucky with the timing of our walk to view the glacier; as we approached the lookout (recent floods had closed the track further up the valley), the cloud lifted and there it was! Beautiful, majestic, awe inspiring…take your pick.
Farm Girl had to be very strict with the elders of the party, as having seen the glacier (and having undertaken yet another hike to do so), we were a little reluctant to walk any further. We’re so glad she stuck to her guns and her agenda. Peter’s Pool was, for me, an absolute highlight of the entire trip.
With fantails flittering around us, we had this gorgeous place entirely to ourselves and it was very easy to pretend we were 9 year old Peter, who found it while out – just exploring his new neighbourhood – over 100 years earlier. Farm Girl also had us do one more walk to see the glow worms. Again we had the entire track to ourselves but the hike was undertaken at an increasingly higher speed; all those trees and twinkling lights and scuffly sounds in the dark can be a little unnerving for those with overactive imaginations.
After all that exercise, it was only right we spent another afternoon soaking in hot pools. That and eating at the Alice May Restaurant, a place with a story and so good we ate there both nights, rounded out our Homestead Field Trip.
The homeward journey held adventures of its own:
a beach walk in Hokitika and our traditional wander among the rocks at Castle Rock (whenever we are that far “up the road”), and then it was back to reality again.
If you’re after a well planned holiday, you could do worse that get Farm Girl to sort you one; she even brought us home under budget!