Originally we had planned to spend the night after Franz Josef at Gillespie Beach camp ground near Fox Glacier with a romantic sundowner on the beach. Apparently we were not the only ones who had that brilliant idea and when we reached the end of the 20km unsealed gravel road we arrived at an hopelessly overcrowded little camp ground swarming with 18-20 year old backpackers (most of which were probably German). Not exactly the remote wilderness camping we had expected 😦
In the end it turned out to be really lucky decision to turn around and drive the 20km gravel road back though, because we ultimately found this amazing ‘freedom camping’ location with glacier mountain views, a small river nearby and a herd of cows as neighbours.
This location was even closer to Lake Matheson which is supposed to have a mirror like surface allowing incredible sunrise pictures if you’re lucky. Well I guess we were lucky when we got up at 5:00am (!!!) and arrived at the lakeside viewpoint with a small handful of other early birds just in time for following photos:
When we came back from the lake walk it must have been the first time in our life that we arrived at a cafe before opening time (as opposed to just before or after closing time). We even beat three large tour busses arriving at 8:00 sharp spitting out hordes of tourists who all missed the beautiful sunset … Haha! Lazy buggers couldn’t get out of bed on time, ey 😉
Then again, we weren’t used to be up and ready that early either and it took us some time to figure out of what to do with the rest of the day. Well, since we already were in the neighbourhood, we spent the rest of the morning walking to Fox Glacier, where the tracks allowed you to get a bit closer to the glacier than at Franz Josef. Access to the actual glacier surface was restricted to guided tours with grampons though and we had to stay behind the ropes …