Day 19: First day of 2014

Again a rainy start of the day here in Punakaiki: we woke up to the thunderous sound of the rain falling in these rainforest like surroundings.

Happy new year by the way! These warm holidays are messing our feeling for time up. Christmas was weird, and now New Years is also a little off.

As we are going to sit in our car for the majority of the day, so all is not lost, but the count of consecutive days of rain has been upped once more, now to 9. After we ate our breakfast of hamburger buns with jam and bananas, we started packing for the journey only to find that the rain had temporarily stopped to let us put the bags in the car.
Also, we decided to pay Pancake Rocks another visit as the sun would be in a much nicer spot for photography. Yesterday, it was directly in our face and quite low already due to the late hour in the day we were there, now the sun was going to be in our back (and hidden behind some clouds) but the views would be nicer like that.

The drought persisted for about another half hour, which was just enough for us to walk the park and take the pictures we wanted to take with the right lighting conditions. Yay!
We quickly returned to the car as the clouds started packing again, and with the slight tinkle of the first raindrops on the windshield we set about to get to Fox Glacier.

During the complete 5 hour trip, it has rained non stop. As driving in those conditions is quite tiring, we swapped drivers every one in a while, just to keep moving and be safe on the road.
Fox Glacier is named after the glacier with the same name in the vicinity, and consists of a few hotels, lodges, motels and B&B’s, together with the companies that do excursions on the glacier itself and helicopter tours for the mountains nearby. Of those, Mount Cook is the largest and the one that feeds the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers.

As the rains are still falling without stopping. We decided it was not time for us to do a short walk in the vicinity of the Lodge, but instead we went about 20kms back up the road (Highway 6) to Franz Josef where the rarest of all kiwis is on display.
Situated in a Wildlife centre, there is an open facility where the flightless nocturnal birds can be viewed during daytime as the rhythm in the display is reversed for our viewing pleasure.
They have a total of 3 Rowi Kiwis scurrying about in the pen, and about 20 eggs still incubating. Also, a lot of young kiwis were still there as the were not yet old enough to be returned to the wild. With about 375 Rowi kiwis still living in the wild, the species is on the brink of extinction and that is where this little sanctuary comes into play.
Viewing the birds was wildly expensive but it is for a good cause, so it is definitely money well spent.

Tomorrow, we are destined to go for a walk on the Fox Glacier, but the forecast says it’ll rain the entire day, with the winds growing stronger and the rain becoming heavier. All in all, about 200mm of rain is going to fall on Fox Glacier tomorrow, which is a lot by any standard.
But with the area experiencing about 5100 mm of rain each year, it just is what it is.