Sunday, 13 November 2016

Playing tourguide to Jen - Part 2

We drove on to Fox in the pouring rain and though initially were going to camp, when we did research a hostel room was only $7 more expensive than camping each, so we stayed at Ivory Towers backpackers - which, by the way, is bloody amazing.  The lady had blue hair and she gave us the discounted BBH rate for no other reason than she was a nice person, the kitchen was really well equipped and had free tea, there were no bunkbeds in sight and we had our own room.  It was a very lovely sleep indeed! (though I was woken once by Jen sleep talking, "What!!! They've blocked the view of the Haast Pass!" - glad she's getting into the spirit of NZ!)

In the morning we embarked on my favourite part of the trip - the Copland Track! For some reason I was nearly shitting myself over this - I think I'd read too many warning signs on the DOC site about rockfalls and being washed away by the river.  The track starts with a river crossing which I hate - my feet get so cold they burn so I wasn't looking forward to it. I spent the evening prior texting Shannyn for reassurance that I could do it and telling him that if I didn't text him on Sunday at 5pm then I was probably dead and to alert the police and my mum.

However it was my favourite part of the whole trip! We started early and despite the heavy rain the previous day and night, the river was actually lower than when we'd checked it out the previous day.  It was painful on my feet and I made weird noises with every step but I made it through in one piece, helped by a trusty stick I'd found at the start of the track.

The track is definitely up there in my top 10.  It's 18kms long but with no long steep sections, it just ambles up and down until you reach the hut.  It's beautiful - we had perfect weather for it which helped.  After the river crossing you enter a woodland that's filled with vegetation and native birds, and navigate little streams that you either wade through or rock hop over, sometimes the track is actually a little waterfall which you have to walk up.  The local rock is really sparkly and glints in the sun - we were convinced there were traces of gold in it but on further research post walk it's Mica.

navigating mini waterfalls that form the track. I can see why they say not to attempt it after heavy rainfall

The track meets up with the Copland River and there's a bit of boulder hopping (one of my favourite activities in the world) and then you have to cross one of many roaring rivers coming down from the mountains using the terrifying swing bridges.  Well to be fair only 2 were terrifying - steel cables where you could see through to the river below you and a big gap either side which you could fall through if you tried hard enough.  But it's all part of the fun!

Logan, my trusty stick

my favourite view of the whole walk

One of many bridges (well 8 to be exact)

These are the scary bridges!

We eventually made it to the hut, swapped our tramping gear for our bikinis and headed to the natural hot pools!  If every hike ended up with hot pools I'd hike every damn day!  The pools are shallow and have a muddy base and we had to submerge ourselves to stop being eaten by sandflies, but you just lie down in that lovely warm water and look at the snow capped mountains across the valley and feel very content with life!

We made it! The Welcome Flats hut

Hot pools!

The boiling hot stream that feeds the pools

The cheeky Alpine parrot - the Kea

The river crossing - there's this stream then 2 others to cross over before you get to the other side

We hiked back in the morning, meeting a German guy in the car park who we'd made friends with in the hut.  He gave us tea and we gave him chocolate then we parted ways and headed back to Fox, feeling very accomplished.  We camped at a proper campsite and spent the evening reading books on bean bags and checking out nearby glowworms.

In the morning I dropped Jen off at the helicopter place so she could do her helihike, and I had a fairly chilled morning where I walked to Fox Glacier and sat in a cafe drinking hot chocolate and writing.

Fox Glacier

Fox valley. Amazing to think that less than 100 years ago the entire valley was filled with the glacier

Jen came back full of beans after her exciting morning, and we carried on our drive up the West Coast to Hokitika.  I called my old acquaintance Wayne (from the farm) and we offered to cook dinner in exchange of a bed for the night which he happily agreed to.  It was SO nice to see him again! He's such a lovely guy. We cooked him dinner and drank beers in the garden and played with his dog and had a good old natter about the farm and life in general before hitting the hay.

I look a bit uncomfortable but contract to my expression I was really happy to see Wayne again!

We woke up on our final morning and packed up all our stuff - it seemed like a daunting task after having everything spread out across the car, but we managed to fit everything into our packs again, and hit the road back to Christchurch.  We stopped for coffee and a snack in Arthur's Pass, and enjoyed watching the Kea's hop around on people's cars picking at the rubber (luckily not ours!).  The drive through Arthur's Pass was beautiful but longer than I expected and I was panicking that we wouldn't have enough time to clean our car before dropping it at the airport.  But we made it in time and had an uneventful flight back home.

Amin was really nice and picked us up from the airport (in a Jaguar?! courtesy car apparently - but made us feel like VIPs!) then we took him for dinner to say thank you and for a catch up - Jen hadn't seen him since Sri Lanka.  When we got back we were the first ones home, so started unpacking stuff.  I heard Shannyn walk in so I ran up to him asking him to smell my arm pits (this sounds weird but the context is I forgot to put deodorant on in the morning but didn't smell and wanted to prove to him I didn't. To be fair it still sounds weird) but did a double take as the person I'd run up to wasn't Shannyn, so I got all embarrassed that I'd asked a stranger to smell my underarms, and I was confused because it looked like it could be Shannyn but something wasn't right - then I twigged and started laughing hysterically because he'd shaved off his beard and looked like a totally different person.  Bloody Movember! You can donate here if you wish

See! He looks so different!

The next day we took a drive out to the Waitakeres - I was keen to show Jen that Auckland had more to offer than just the boring city she'd seen so far.  We did the Fairy Falls walk which I really recommend as a short leg stretcher - minimum effort, maximum impact in terms of what you see - gorgeous native bushland, Kauri trees and a super cute waterfall that looks like it's been constructed for a Japanese feature garden. We then drove to Muriwai, had lunch and checked out the gannet colony - which is soooooooooo good!!! You can get so close to the gannets and there's tons and tons of them.  I am going to go back in a few weeks as it's hatching season and I wanna see the wee babies! They're a little bit smelly but cute birds - they mate for life and when one of them flies off and comes back they make a fuss over each other as if they haven't seen each other in weeks - it's pretty adorable.

Kauri tree

That evening I hosted a pot luck (where everyone brings some food round) so that Jen could meet all my Auckland friends. It was a bit disjointed as everyone turned up at different times and not many people brought food but it was a nice evening nonetheless and I was happy Jen got to meet some of my closest friends out here.

Thursday was Jen's final day so we had a leisurely packing morning then walked to Mt Eden and had lunch, then I took her to the airport and waved goodbye.

It was a whirlwind trip but very enjoyable and so nice to see Jen - I hope to have more visitors hint hint everyone! I also hope Jen enjoyed it, it's such a long trip for such a short time!!


  1. all ok from where you are? stay safe!

    1. Hello! Thanks for checking in :) all good here, didn't feel it at all!! :) x


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