**pictures to follow… library internet is very sloooowwww
On our way to Mount Cook we passed two sad eyed hitchhikers. Although we have only had to hitchhike once in our travels, in California, we figured we should give our karma a boost so we pulled a u-turn and gave them a lift. They turned out to be a very nice couple from England, climbing around NZ. We left them in the camp ground at mount cook and after a quick stop at the visitors center headed off for Ball Hut.
Ball hut is about a 3 hour walk on a glacier moraine. It was at one point a road, but as the glacier has down wasted (about 60m since the road was built) the moraine became more unstable and the road has slipped, slumped, and eroded into a rough track with sections of perfect road. Very interesting. On the road in we met 2 people who had just climbed Mt. Cook as well as a gentleman who had dislocated his shoulder. His partner was a doctor, but she was not strong enough to put it back in. Despite my hesitation, I was convinced to give it a shot, so I spent about half an hour hauling on Tom’s poor arm. It didn’t go back into place, and I am pretty sure it was unbelievable painful. The one time we left the Tylenol 3 in the van…
We did a scramble up Ball Ridge, but when it started looking a little to much like rock climbing we turned around. The view from the top was breathtaking, the ball and Tasman glaciers coming together, then the blue lake at the bottom emptying into the valley. The scale was so impressive. We spent another day in the hut due to rain, then walked out and slept at the campsite, having a nice dinner with the hitchhikers we had picked up. We left Mt. cook, dropped the hitchhikers on the highway to Christchurch and headed up the west coast. We would have gone to Christchurch, but apparently it is still quite a mess after the earthquake, and sort of a depressing place to be. Quite sad.
The west coast is extremely rugged. We slept at an awesome abandoned hotel in the Lindis pass, then stumbled upon the Copland track. It is a 6 hour walk into some awesome natural hot springs, so we stayed for 2 nights. We made an awesome Inukshuk down the river, which our American friends didn’t really understand. The stars were beautiful! It is also great to be able to stop at the side of the road and have the time, food, and equipment to do a 3 day hike. The benefits of living in your van are endless!
After Copland we made quick stops at the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers. These are both beautiful, but after seeing the Ball and Tasman up close and without any ropes or other people, they sort of lose their majesty. I am now in Hokitika, which is sort of the first big town you come to as you exit the west coast. Next we will go through Greymouth, and then after a week of exploring the Abel Tasman (and wine country for Kelly!) we will head to the North Island!