New Zealand’s picturesque uniqueness lies in its breathtaking and fast-changing landscapes at almost every turn and curve; we were transposed from Rimu forest and granite cliffs of Hokitika to mesmerizing Franz Josef and Fox glaciers in merely two hours. We had booked our accommodation in the petite and pretty town of Franz Josef which has a glacier of same name.
This town is in the middle of the rain forest surrounded by huge mountains and verdure. It was nearing 4.30 in the afternoon and the sun was playing hide and seek with the clouds highlighting beautiful hues on the mountains - this display of Mother Nature was a feast for the eyes made me crave for a book by Ruskin Bond and reminded of Dehradun, Shimla back home in India.
The Top Ten Holiday Park is a chain of resorts found almost in every city of New Zealand and has very good facilities and view rooms/units equipped with your own kitchen and dining.
Checking in our valises in the resort, we set out to explore this town which is so small that it can be traversed in 10 minutes. It has many small boutique souvenir shops, one food store, tourist information centre, many hotels, motels, holiday resorts, cafes and activity booking centers. One can ice walk, take glacier tours, Heli hike or take a scenic flight… The glacier is some 5 minutes from the town. We booked ourselves a helicopter ride for tomorrow which comprised flying over Fox and Franz Josef glacier and landing on the snow. The weather is very unpredictable and can hamper flights so we were assured that if the flight got cancelled we would get our money back… just an advise - be flexible with your stay days here as in case the flight is cancelled, you can go the next day!
Shopping for souvenirs proved to be therapeutic and relaxing after such a hectic day of travelling. The souvenirs ranged from pebbled door mats, table mats to woolen clothes, shot glasses and hand painted pottery to many unique creations crafted drawing inspiration from the surroundings.
Later we got some groceries and went back to our humble abode and satiated our famished souls with junk food and beer - when on vacation dump the diets and healthy eating - we embraced the end of the day and waited in anticipation for tomorrow for the helicopter ride.
(To be contd)