At the beginning of March 1985 I was at Franz Josef Glacier.
I expected to only spend one month in New Zealand so I packed a lot into those few weeks.
NZ is said to have all the natural landscapes of Europe, from wonderful beaches to lakes, mountains, fjords and glaciers. So I set off to explore.
I got the bus from Auckland to Wellington. Eleven hours! But some beautiful scenery along the way, from hills with cloud covered summits, along the Rangitikei River cut into a huge gorge with sheer cliffs, to the final leg along a coastal route with views of the South Island in the distance.
I had one day in Wellington, exploring the city centre and taking the cable car up to Kelburn Lookout and the botanical Gardens. Great views of the circular Wellington harbour.
The ferry to the South Island gave a different perspective of the harbour and surrounding scenery. Three hours later I arrived in Picton and began my journey via Nelson, through the Buller Gorge and down the west coast via Greymouth. Rugged coastline with good surf, Mount Cook and Southern Alps inland.
Hokitika was a lovely surprise, beach and views of snow capped mountains, jade factory, glass blowing, museum of gold and jade mining over the past century. A pretty and fascinating place.
The Franz Josef Glacier was amazing. Huge, rough, jaggedy. At this time in 1985 it was advancing more than one meter per day, but on a general scale over the past two hundred years it had receded by a mile. I could see the valley where the glacier used to be, now with different levels and stages of vegetation. Rocks on the valley floor were totally smooth where they had been worn by the ice. It was all just so vast. I had a wonderful day, a once in a lifetime experience.
The local township was a garage, two shops, one hotel with a bar, a few motels, a church and and aerodrome. The 7km walk to the glacier was along a dry dirt road, fine when just walking alone and enjoying the countryside, not so good when a car drove past leaving a cloud of dust.
I attended a wedding in the church. I didn’t know the bridge or groom, they were from Cambridge, England. Two local people were friends and were their witnesses, but they were happy to have other travellers attend their wedding. It was a lovely surprise to my day.
I wrote in my journal “What a lovely wedding. Certainly the way to get married. I’d love to do it like that, away from family and all the fuss of weddings, and in a beautiful part of the world.”
Who knew that I would elope and that my eldest daughter would also elope and get married in New Zealand.