There are two glaciers about twenty minutes from each other, Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. Most people seem to do Franz Josef, and it is bigger and more majestic looking. However, Fox has a pretty walking trail around Lake Matheson, and a much short trail to the base of the glacier and you can get closer to the ice. So, we went to Fox, but you could tell most people just skipped it. Their loss.
We took the hour long trail around Lake Matheson first. It was very pretty with more of those giant fern forests , mountains, and wildflowers. However, it was very cloudy that morning, so while we were supposed to be able to see the reflection of Mt. Cook in the Lake, we mostly just saw smaller mountains and clouds. Still pretty though:
Then we went on to the glacier itself. This was a very odd experience. All of the air around the glaciers is rainforest, so it’s very green and lush with mist like pictures I’ve seen of Costa Rica. Then right in the middle of the rainforest is a glacier. Let me illustrate. I’m standing in the same spot here. This is me facing away from the glacier:
Here’s me facing Fox Glacier:
Weird, huh? The trail itself was sort of odd, too. It was very rocky, and you were essentially walking along a riverbed that still had river in it, so you had to occasionally jump onto rocks to cross water. There were also several signs warning you to keep moving and not just stop and stare because they still have a lot of rock falls, and occasionally tourists get hit.
The other curiosity was the glacial pools. They had this beautiful crystal clear blue water in them as you see here:
But the glacier itself was very dirty:
Daniel said he wasn’t drinking any glacier water; he didn’t care how much it was advertised as being clean and refreshing.
Here's a pretty good picture of us in front of Fox:
After Fox Glacier, we did go ahead and hike a short trail around Franz Josef to get a look at it. More imposing, but a lot further away:
We had dinner in town, where once again those evil biting flies attacked us while we were trying to enjoy the view. We’re itchy, but we did get to see the mountains finally peak out from behind the clouds: