Now, in my defense we’re in New Zealand, so today isn’t “today”, which means Zoe’s birthday isn’t “today”, but when it comes down to it, I seriously messed up and was all off by a day in my head. Zoe wasn’t happy about it (rightfully), but she found it in her big, deep heart to forgive me, and eventually got our day on track, and headed up our toughest hike of the trip up above Franz Joseph Glacier.
I have come to appreciate a very small aspect of certain hikes. Hikes that are bound for some sort of viewpoint or end point of significance. It is somewhat uncommon for a hike to be able to offer tantalizing beautiful vistas along the way, keeping you going, and then at the final moment still strike you with a breathtaking view. All along this hike are breaks in the deep rainforest foliage that reveal the massive river bed below carved by the glacier, and cascading waterfalls multiple hundreds of meters tall. Then as you come to the top of this hike, you are still deep in foliage 10 feet deep, and you climb up steps to a wooden platform, strategically placed so that you are turned away from the glacier. So when you reach the top step, and turn around you are struck with a view you were completely unprepared for. Now I don’t know that this is all thought through when a track is created, but I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt, and appreciate this small detail.
When we got back to town, the MOST tourist filled town we had encountered thus far, we stopped in for a happy hour drink and decided to hit up the hot pools in town. We scored a private pool and cabana with shower, heated floors… After an hour or so of lounging about, we stopped back in town for dinner before heading back to our secret camp spot we had found the night before.
In these more touristy areas it’s VERY hard to find places to freedom camp, every little pull off and trail head has a sign saying “NO CAMPING”. Luckily though, we found the oddest little pull off that dipped down away from the road leading nowhere but back up to the road again. The first night we were accompanied by another group ducking out of the public eye, but tonight we got it to ourselves.