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In 1977 we hired our first narrowboat from Anglo Welsh at Market Harborough.From that moment our destiny was set. In 2006 we finally purchased our own brand new 57' narrowboat which we named 'Free Spirit'. Our aim is to travel the length and breadth of all the navigable rivers and canals of the UK. This will be our story as it unfolds.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Franz Josef Glacier

158mm (roughly 6") of rain is predicted to fall tonight. In other words a deluge! Flash flooding may occur and possibly a thunderstorm or two. At the moment we have hunkered down at a place called Fox near the Fox glacier.

Didn't bode well this morning when we awoke to very low cloud.





  Our plan was to take a helicopter trip to the top of Franz Josef Glacier. It was cancelled, understandably as you couldn't even see the mountains. Instead, we went to the wildlife center to see the Rowi Kiwis the most endangered of the species. Loved this place as the Kiwis were all awake, running around and looking for food. Although the viewing room was dark once the eyes had adjusted they could be seen clearly. No photos allowed so sorry folks, not one to show. When we emerged the weather seemed to have picked up and we made a decision to walk to the face of the Glacier. Took us over two hours return to do the 4 km walk and up till the very moment we reached the face, the cloud cover had kept away. Then just as we turned up the glacier was obscured and the rain started. A miserable walk back to the van but at least we did see the glacier, pity all those walking to the face in that torrential rain. No chance of seeing the glacier at all.

First sighting of the glacier from the car park




Zoomed in from the car park







A tantalising glimpse of the mountain

As far as we were allowed and the rain started.


Another glimpse of the glacier as the cloud cover lifted for a brief moment.



Waterfalls were impressive


 We may forgo the walk to Fox Glacier in the morning. The path to the face may well be closed if the river floods and what with all that rain to come....

Some wildlife photos to show from the last few days.

This bug was over 1" long.







Monday, 30 January 2017

The turquoise river

Awoke to rain again...groan...typical as today we wanted to visit the Hokitika Gorge. It was a 'must do' from Marilyn so of course, we had to go see. First stop though was the Dorothy falls and lake Kaniere. The time it took to drive from Greymouth to Hokitika, a good 90 minutes had gone by and during that time the cloud lifted and the sun putting in an appearance. Another 20km drive (5km down a dirt track) and we found the falls. No another person to be seen so we pretty well had the place to ourselves.




Then it was the drive to Hokitika Gorge. A very popular place and we had trouble in finding somewhere to park. Back down the road and we managed to pull right over to the side...and getting out I found myself nearly in a ditch! Hey ho, what fun we do have. Marilyn was right, though, this place was awesome. The turquoise blue of the river was a sight to behold.








We still had another 70km to get to Franz Joseph Glacier so we didn't stop too long to admire the scene in front of us. We had thought about doing the helicopter ride to the top of the glacier tomorrow but looking at the weather for the next couple of days, it's forecast rain, rain and more rain. Not sure what we will do now.


Sunday, 29 January 2017

Tumbling down the Nile rapids.

You would think that a gentle stroll to the beach to look at the sunset would be a doddle. We were told by the owner of the camp site that it was a good viewing platform for great photos so at 8.30pm we set off. What she forgot to mention was the track needed to get to the beach was almost a goat track, full of mud, slippery drops, and very dark areas to walk through. Anyway, we persisted and after a good 1km walk eventually arrived.....only just in time to see the sun, not the lovely soft red glow of it sinking beneath the horizon as expected, but of it disappearing behind a cloud! By the time we got back, it was almost dark, our feet and sandals covered in sticky mud and eaten alive by all those nasty biting insects that plague one during the dark hours! That will teach us to stay in the van and not go traipsing off into the unknown!




 And yet another mad thing us Jameisons did. This morning, bright and early, we parked outside 'Underworld Adventures and Cafe' at a place called Charleston. Having picked up a booklet from the information center in Westport we were intrigued to read 'Enjoy a Cave Rafting Adventure in the Paparoa National park and see Glow Worms. Tour includes a train ride through the ancient rainforest and a trip down the river Nile on inflatable tubes! We just had to do it, no question of being too old or infirm and a 'for goodness sake act your age' argument! It was fun and very challenging. Caving in every sense other than abseiling down sheer drops and squeezing oneself through a tiny hole. Yes we clambered over limestone rocks, yes we waded through streams up to our thighs and yes we had to get across a small chasm with a drop of 10feet by sliding on your bum, finding footholds and then with a leap of faith push yourself away from the rock face to reach the far side and hopefully to not drop down the hole. All immense fun if not slightly terrifying. Then came the floating bit.  Onto the tube in the freezing water to see the Glow Worms. Getting into the tubes was easy...getting out was a different matter. But what a surreal experience. The tour ended with us shooting rapids down the Nile. Yes, it really is called the Nile but it does have a proper name, The Waitekere river. So these photos were taken by our guide with his permission to download as many as we wanted.




















 Over 4 hours before we arrived back at base, showers provided (lovely and warm) collect our photo and the web address and then it was back on the road towards Panakiaki to see the pancake rocks.
A blow hole was also supposed to be seen but she didn't blow for us today.



 By now time was getting on and we still needed a campsite for the night. Found one but not until we arrived at Greymouth. Not sure how we can top today. Nothing much in Greymouth so Hokitika tomorrow and a possible walk by the gorge.

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