Glacier Country

Date: Thursday 7 March 2013
Route: Jacobs River to Whataroa
Distance: 92km
Weather: overcast
Accommodation: White Heron Sanctuary Motel

We set off in a cloud this morning. Dewdrops formed on our glasses as we were riding. The cloud lifted after the first hour. Bright sunbeams lit up the landscape and wisps of cloud hung around the the mountains and brushed against the tops of the tall forest trees.

It remained overcast and nice and cool the whole day. The first part of the ride, up till Fox Glacier had relatively easy up and downs, with us making good time.

Between Fox Glacier and Franz Joseph Glacier we had three long climbs – very exhausting – and two steep downhill runs. We were relieved when we got to Franz Joseph, as this is also where cell phone coverage started once more (after 3 days with no coverage). We phoned to make a booking for tonight, 32km away in Whataroa and then bought our groceries for supper. There was a good Four Square in the town and we were like kids in a candy store after the slim pickings at Haast.

Franz Joseph is a real tourist town, the air above your head buzzes with helicopters going to the glacier, like bees around a honeypot. Most of the businesses are cafes, but a coffee costs more than in central Wellington, so we decided to push on.

The road to Whataroa was a pleasure with gentle ups and downs, passing two lakes and finally running along a river.

Our accommodation here is retro but well equipped cabin. The proprietor was away for the afternoon, but told us the cabin is open, so we could just go in, which we did.
The only other guest here is a young Californian cycling through New Zealand. We had some beer and wedges at the local hotel bar – with a strong local flavour – men wearing short shorts and gumboots at the bar.

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