I arrived to Fox Village from Franz Josef where, after fighting against the weather for two days, I only got a partial view of the glacier. Having seen wonderful photos of the Fox area, I was looking forward to see the Fox glacier and the lake Matheson, a mirror lake.
I did some walks around Fox Village, and three important things happened:
- I confirmed that most people are nice and helpful
- I discovered that I should not believe in postcards
- It was difficult, but I did see the glacier!
Walk 1: lake Matheson
I reached Fox Village in the morning, under the rain. Oh no, not again. My optimism sank. The tiredness of the last two days fell on me. I decided to stay in the hostel until the rain stopped… no way I would get wet a third time in a week.
After lunch it finally stopped. The sky was half clear half cloudy so I thought it was worth to try. I decided to go to the lake Matheson and attempt the glacier the day after. It would be a long walk: 6km to the car park, then a 1h30 loop around the lake, and 6km again to go back to the village.
There is no specific walkway to the lake Matheson car park, so I followed the road. It was easy and flat, passing by the school, a few houses, and a lot of green fields.
Next to the car park there is a café and the beginning of the trail. Even though I was a bit tired from the 6km walk, I was very motivated and started the loop.
When I reached the first view point… I felt so disappointed! Nothing to do with the pictures I had seen… low clouds covered the peaks of the mountains and the light wind moved the water so there was no reflection. All that way for that!
I was not sure if it was worth to do the whole loop, but I was already there so I continued. The weather did not change so I did not see much more in the next stops.
In the reflection island I heard a couple talking in Catalan and we started speaking (I had not use it for a couple of months!). They were at the end of their holidays and recommended me some places to visit. And then, they drove me back to the village!
Walk 2: Fox glacier
On the second day I went to the Fox glacier. There is a 4km walkway in the rainforest to get to the car park where the trails start.
When I reached the car park I had a pleasant surprise: a small lake with beautiful colors. For a moment I forgot that I was there to see a glacier… I was completely fascinated by the colors of the lake: bright green, deep blue, turquoise… those colors seemed unreal!
Then I started the trail to the glacier. It was a slightly harder walk than the one in Franz Josef, specially the last 400m were quite steep, but it was not difficult and it was not crowded.
And finally… I saw the glacier, yes! It was still cloudy but the clouds were high so they did not hide the glacier. And indeed… the ice was blue!
I had my picnic lunch up there, in part to wait if the sky cleared, in part to take rest, and in part to enjoy the views.
On the way back to the car park I wondered if it would be worth to do the other trek. I did not think I would have a better view of the glacier, but it was too early to go back to the hostel and too late to walk 10km to the Matheson Lake.
While thinking I stopped at the colorful little lake. There I met a German girl who was also taking pictures, and she offered to drive me back to the village. She was traveling with her boyfriend in a campervan. I told them that I would like to visit the lake and somehow they decided to come with me.
Walk 3: lake Matheson
The view from the first view point was much better than the day before. However, the low clouds still covered the mountains. No peaks!
The German couple decided to go back while I stayed. I was taking pictures when I noticed a bee flying around my neck, in between the jacket and my hair. Ouch, go away, go away!
I tried to shake it out with my hand, while moving my head and jumping (must have been a funny sight!). An old couple who were around helped me scare off the bee…but too late. It had stung me, ouch! Could I be more unlucky?
The couple continued the loop while I wondered if moving on or trying to find a pharmacy. It hurt, so I decided to go to the café in the car park.
I asked for a pharmacy but obviously the closest one was in the village. They gave me some ice, though. Half an hour later I felt better, I thanked them, bought a few postcards, and went to the last view point (doing the reverse loop).
On the way I crossed the British couple who had helped me with the bee (who had completed the loop while I was in the café). They asked me how the sting was, and moved on.
I reached the reflection island and saw almost the same as the day before. Slightly better, true, but still far away from the postcards!
I was a bit upset, but the thing I learnt is: the west coast in the South island is the rainiest region of New Zealand, and one of the rainiest in the world (it is a rainforest). The weather I found is normal, the blue sky in the postcards is not.
Do not believe in postcards.
While going to the car park, I thought about the 6km I had to walk back to the village. “Now it would be nice to meet the British couple in the café”, I day dreamt. And guess what? I did meet them in the café, and they drove me back to the village.
That is when I realized something else: I should not believe in postcards, but I can believe in people. In two days, three couples offered me a lift even before I ask. There are a lot of nice and helpful people in the world.
GOOD TO KNOW
- How to get to Fox Village: there are daily buses to/from Greymouth & Franz Josef and Wanaka.
- Walking trails start at the car parks, the map is available on the iSite (tourist office).
- Shuttle bus to get to the Fox glacier and lake Matheson car parks (4km and 6km from the village): return ticket NZD$12
- In Fox Village there is a small supermarket and numerous accommodation options. Attention: No ATM.
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