Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Glaciers, Big Foot, and burritos

I woke up feeling slightly better, although the heat in our place still was't exactly strong. Luckily, the blankets were warm and the layers I packed helped me quite a bit.

My view in the morning.

Looking out the kitchen window.
Last night's digs.
We decided to dedicate the next couple of days to glaciers, so our hours were spent getting to and from large blocks of ice.

A shot of Queenstown as we were leaving.

Our first destination was Franz Josef Glacier. We decided to take the scenic route and wound our way up and down icy dirt roads. I didn't feel too bad about not working out as those drives certainly got my heart racing.

Me and my newly acquired tourist hat along the road.
The front desk attendant at our hostel told us we had to stop at the Cardrona Hotel along our way. Apparently, it's a New Zealand icon. It boasts, "Established in 1863 the Cardrona Hotel is one of New Zealand’s oldest and most iconic hotels. Situated on the spectacular Crown Range road between Queenstown and Wanaka, the hotel is one of only two remaining buildings from the Cardrona Valley gold rush era. The historic hotel facade is representative of this now vanished town and is an important part of New Zealand’s history."

Some shots of the hotel and town:

Look! Prince Harry has even been there.
Much to my delight, the hotel served vegan hot chocolate. So, I cozied up near the fireplace and took in the old-time ambiance.

Hit. The. Spot.
After my sugar high, I took over the driving.

First time driving on the left. Watch out!
Some shots from along the road:

We also stopped at the Blue Pools, which definitely lived up to their names in blueness. Getting there:

I prefer to do all my hiking sitting down.
After about a mile walk through the woods, we made it to the pools! Note that this is the same "pool;" I just like posting three pictures that are essentially the same thing.

After the blue pools, we piled back into the car in search of Franz Josef. We couldn't resist stopping to check out this waterfall along the road though:

And, then, before we knew it, it was glacier time.

We couldn't get too close, but taking in its beauty from afar was still pretty fantastic!

One of New Zealand's many graphic warning signs.

After a long day, we retired to our hostel. For the night, we stayed at Franz Josef Montrose, and it was fantastic! It seemed brand new and felt more like a hotel. We made dinner in the kitchen and chatted up a woman from Japan who worked there while trying to study English. She was in charge of making the vegetable soup, which was complimentary from the hotel every night. While we were too tired to stay and wait for it to be finished, it sure smelled good!

Early the next morning, Keith woke up and took a helicopter ride over the glacier. I was too much of a chicken to go up in the air (especially after the debacle that was our flight into Queenstown), but his pictures looked absolutely gorgeous! Seriously amazing!

Instead, I settled for driving out to Fox Glacier, which was also really pretty, but, sadly, featured no graphic warning signs.

Oh, and I got to meet Big Foot (well, a plaster one anyway). That's just as exciting as a helicopter ride, right? RIGHT?!

We spent most of the rest of the day eating (we discovered these fizzy sweet-tart candies at the gas station, which were highly addictive), drinking bitters (my new fave!), and driving back to Queenstown.

More warning signs at a rest stop:

A stop along the coast on the way back. Even when I'm half-way around the world, I'm greeted by Ann Arbor.

Back in Queenstown, we ate Mexican food, which felt odd seeing as we were no where near Mexico. But, the place made its own, homemade vegan cheese, so I figured, "why not give it a try?" I'm glad we did because it was quite delicious!
Yumminess from Sombrero's Mexican Cantina.
With full bellies, we drove back to our hostel. On the way, we almost got into an accident and, consequently, learned that round-abouts have slightly different rules in New Zealand than they do in the U.S. Shout-out to the guy in the blue car for not hitting us! Thankfully, we and our rental car were fine, and my heart eventually resumed having a normal BPM rate again.

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