Plan for the day
This was our second day at Fox Glacier and our plan would be to move around this area. Our primary reason for revisiting Fox Glacier after 14 years was to view Lake Matheson. We had seen it last evening, though the view was beautiful we did not think it was as beautiful as we remembered so we intended to visit it again this afternoon, maybe under different lighting of the day the scenery looked better?
Our plan for the morning would be to visit Gillespies Beach which was about 20 km from our hostel. Then Lake Matheson in later part of the day.
Cooking at fox glacier Inn & Pod Hostel
The kitchen at Fox Glacier Inn & Pod Hostel was huge, unfortunately the number of guests who wanted to cook was more than the space would allow. So as I cooked breakfast I had to dart around others to avoid crashing into them.
This hostel was one of the relatively cheaper backpackers in the town, which explained why its dormitories were fully packed and the its common kitchen and dining room crowded near to meal times. This morning when we walked past the shared toilets, we saw a queue of three people brushing their teeth in the corridor waiting for their turn to use the toilets. We were glad we were not living in the dormitories.
Fox Glacier was a glacier country, it was all about glacier tours and other ice adventures. So I was surprise when I saw a beach walking trail listed as one of its site seeing destinations. To get to the beach from our hostel, we drove westward along Cook Flat Road. After about 4 km we passed the turn off to Lake Matheson and after another 4 km we came to a sign that pointed right to Gillespies Beach Road. From there we drove another 11 km, up and down some windy sections and finally reached the end of the road which stopped at Gillespies Beach.
The sky was gloomy and the beach was deserted, the wind was very strong which made walking on the beach uncomfortable. Looking about we did not see anything that could be interesting so after staying for a short while we headed back from where we came from.
Peak View Point
Near the intersection between the Gillespies Beach Road and Cook Flat Road there was a “Peak View Point”. One hour ago on our way to the beach we passed the intersection but we did not spot he “View Point”. This time on the return trip, while we were still on Gillespies Beach Road, at about 750 m from the intersection we saw a signboard that said “Peak View Point”. The view point was on the left side of the road, it was on a flat land just a short distance from the road. It was not a view point that was at a peak it was a view point on a flat ground where we could see the ice peak.
Looking ahead we saw this “patch” of white stuff coming down the slope of a mountain. It struck me that the white patch was the frozen ice of fox glacier. Wow the glacier must be huge, we were so far away and yet we could see it so clearly.
There was an interesting radial viewing equipment mounted on a huge stone stool. By turning an arrow on its plate, and aligning it with a mountain name carved on the plate, the arrow would be set to point in the direction of that mountain. Finally we knew which of the mountains in front of us was Mount Cook!
Lake Matheson in the afternoon
We were back at Lake Matheson by about 1 pm. There were three view points around the lake and since we had the time we would visit all three.
As we walked around the lake, as we looked at the scenery, we knew that we had arrived at Lake Matheson not at its best season. The sky was not blue enough and the snow mountains were covered by clouds. We were here many years ago and it was in December, at that time the view of Lake Matheson was awesome. It seemed that December was definitely the better time to visit Lake Matheson.
Lake Matheson was famous for its reflective water surface and many internet articles talked about its beauty. Unfortunately the scene we saw was not vibrant enough, the greens was dull, the water was darkish grey, the sky was gloomy and the snow mountains were covered by cloud. This “not so beautiful” setting was occasionally reflected in the water when the breeze died off and the ripples disappeared….sigh….
We were done with walking round Lake Matheson by about 4 pm. We felt that there would be no point waiting around till sunset as the view would not be any better than the view we had seen the eve before.
Rather than to go back to our hostel we decided to take a coffee break at Matheson Cafe. Matheson Cafe was a beautiful and large cafe that was located just by the Lake Matheson carpark. Nearly all its walls were made up of glass panels which allowed it guests to enjoy both their meals and the outside scenery at the same time.
The cafe was still a short distance from the lake so there was no lake view. The view that could be seen was the greenery and the snow mountains ahead. We sat at the cafe for nearly two hours, sipping coffee, eating panini sandwich, surfing the internet and admiring the peaceful surrounding.