So it’s starting to get difficult to time manage, not that I have a time table to keep to but I do like to have accomodation planned ahead. I also know that it would be unusual not to find a camp with a powered site (but there are lots of tourists in their infernal campers 😉 ) and if I must, I can freedom camp. I belong to the New Zealand Motorhome Association and they provide a comprehensive list of varying accomodation types for the members.
So just a short trip today but exciting events are on the agenda.
The Ōkārito and Whataroa area is the place to be if you are interested in birds.and is the only nesting site for the Kotuku ( White Heron) It’s only accessible by tour and was closed in April and one of the reasons why this trip has been scheduled (probably) for March 2017.
The White Heron has always been rare in New Zealand (I have seen 3 or 4) and it has gained almost mythical status. With a population of a mere 200 birds, it is revered by both Māori and pakeha (non Maori, hence I am a pakeha) for its elegant white feathers. This graceful bird has long, slender legs and a long, thin S-shaped neck, which has a distinct kink when flying. It is common in Australia, the South Pacific and Asia. The Kōtuku colony is situated in extremely close proximity to a shag rookery and a Royal Spoonbill (another Australian migrant) colony. The success of any of these three species may place pressure on the relative success of the other two.
Tour cost including DOC entry permit: $135, duration: 2.5 hours return trip from Whataroa.
On to Fox Glacier, no stopping at Franz Joseph this time. Been there, done that!
Fed by four alpine glaciers, Fox Glacier ( Te Moeka o Tuawe) is longer and faster moving than the Franz Josef Glacier. It is remarkable in that it ends in temperate rainforest, 250 metres above sea level and a mere twelve kilometres from the sea. There are more 3,000m (10,000ft) peaks at the head of the Fox Glacier than in any other valley in New Zealand. Nowhere in the world’s temperate zones are glaciers so accessible. Depending on where the safety barriers are this walk will take you about one hour return.
Another walk close by is the historic swing bridge was built in 1929 at the cost of £1,200. This seventy metre long bridge was prefabricated in England and then shipped to New Zealand. It was then dragged on a sled to the site where it was installed. Strong enough to take horses and sheep it was the safe route south to Jaccob’s River for many years before the Cook River was properly bridged in the 1930’s. I want to do that one too, I rather like swing bridges (and waterfalls).
That would appear to be possibly managed in one day but may stretch into part of the next day.
I have found there is a tour that takes you to where the Pacific and Australian Plates meet. It also departs from Whataroa. Maybe I should be looking at staying there!
Accomodation: Fox Glacier Campervan Park $40.00
41 Sullivan Road, Fox Glacier
Phone: 03 751 0888 (NZMCA discount)