We woke up in Fox Glacier and booked a helicopter ride up to the glacier right away. The clouds and rain were coming, and we knew it would be our best chance. Being the only booking that day so far, the car arrived within 15 minutes and whisked us away to the helicopter.
The glacier itself was immense and beautiful.
It was incredibly humbling to see how far it had receded in just the past 5 years. Something to take home and think about, for sure.
We tried to see some other things in the area, but the driving rain and wind made our decision for us, and we got back in the RV and headed further up the coast. We stopped at an old bridge in Whataroa for lunch. The guide books told us to be stunned by the amazing blues. It was okay. I think the cold and rain and sand flies, as well as the contrast to the lake area of Wanaka and Pukaki, unfortunately made me less than amazed.
But then we pressed forward, along the Tasman Sea, passing Hokitika and Greymouth.
Finally, we stopped at Punakaiki for the night. It was our last chance to see any penguins, if it was to happen at all. Unfortunately, we didn't see any. It is out of season, and they only come in to shore after dark and leave before dawn. We tried, but unfortunately, this wasn't in the cards for us. We did, however, get a chance to check out the blow holes at the Pancake Rocks. It was low tide, so while beautiful, it was less than what we were told to expect.
We camped for the night nearby, and endured the most driving and loud rain and wind we'd experienced so far. Between that, and the fact that the people we'd been encountering were less than helpful, I'd started to think this wasn't the place for us to stay long.