Day 154: Wishful Thinking

Mon. 14th January 2013

Sunset at Franz Josef - a good sign for tomorrow?I generally try to avoid wishful thinking – even, or perhaps especially, when it comes to the prospects for Leeds United. I prefer for my surprises to be on the up side. However, today (and for the last 36 hours) I have been guilty of a tendency to look up to the sky and say “you know, I think its clearing”. This has been going on since early afternoon yesterday – even during the rain. I was spectacularly wrong yesterday and not much better today.

The reason for this blind optimism is that we had booked a helicopter trip to take in both the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers and then to fly over to Mount Cook. We wanted to do it because we ran short of time and weren’t able to drive up to the base of Mt Cook earlier in our trip and because of my lack of success with the jet boat in Queenstown. Also, Janet says we can afford it as we didn’t fly back from Milford Sound – the money saved by getting the coach in both directions is almost exactly the cost of this trip.

We'd hoped to be in one of theseAs we head to the office for the helicopter company just after 10am, its not actually raining (which is distinctly better than yesterday) but the cloud is low and, worse, it seems to be clinging to the side of the mountain. “Not running at the minute, but come back at 10:30” says the man on the desk. Ah well. Just time for a cup of coffee then (its an ill wind).

“Come back at 12:30” is the predictable response when we return. Okey dokey. There is a walk nearby up through rainforest to Callery Gorge – 1hr 20min round trip. Sounds perfect and so we head on up the hill, following the path over fallen trees, past the giant ferns and the trees with their mossy beards (more reasons why the forests in New Zealand look ancient) to the bridge spanning the gorge over a (very) swollen river. As we stand on the bridge – you have to be still, otherwise it sways so much the photos are blurred – we can not only hear the rushing of the water but also the rumbling and crunching of what we can only assume are the rocks being carried downstream.

Bridge over a gorge with a very full riverIf you look up and squint, you can nearly convince yourself that it is clearing. However, we aren’t really surprised when we are greeted with “come back at 2:45”. We had wanted to be further up the coast tonight (and hence ahead of our draft itinerary) however, we want to do this helicopter trip more – and it might, just, clear this afternoon.

By now the iSite tourist office is running out of things for us to do as we visited the glacier yesterday (not that we could get very close). There is, however, the walk to Canavan’s Knob just a little way out of town. After the obligatory sniggering, the schoolboy photos and a lunch stop we head on up the hill. The lookout at the top does give great views both west out over the mouth of the river to the coast and east up to the glacier. The view of the sky continues to be murky with clouds clinging to the mountains.

View out over the mouth of the river to the seaWe are now known in the helicopter tour office and we are greeted with “are you guys around tomorrow?” almost before we have got through the front door. “What about the first flight of the day at 8:10? The forecast is better for tomorrow and early is your best chance.” Of course we say yes – though this is our last chance. There are too many other places in NZ that we want to see, to allow ourselves to get behind schedule.

So we are early back at the campsite where we stayed last night. It was perfectly fine, and Oscar (the Taffy) remembers us from yesterday. For variety, we do choose to go for a different plot than yesterday – all very well, but when we get there we are backing on to a stream. Will that have unfortunate effects in the middle of the night?

Sunset at Franz Josef - a good sign for tomorrow?Just as we have settled in and are getting through our usual routine of blog, emails and research for tomorrow, when we notice that the evening sky has gone bright orangey-red. It is the most spectacular sunset we have seen on our trip so far – the trees and the other vans round the campsite made it really hard to photograph. Red sky at night and all that. Perhaps the omens are good for our flight tomorrow – or is that just more wishful thinking?


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