The morning northbound bus arrived and Tony and I both caught it. He teased me a little to try to get juicy details on my evening with Ruth. Had there been anything to report I wouldn’t have shared it, but since there wasn’t anything to tell anyway, we were both disappointed. Actually, it’s tough to be despondent for very long when you’re faced with the scenery of New Zealand outside the bus window, and I was feeling better in a matter of minutes. The bus headed north and made its first stop at the Franz-Joseph Glacier. Franz-Joseph was a bit more upscale than Fox Glacier. The people getting on the bus were all dragging suitcases out to the curb instead of carrying backpacks, while wearing furs instead of fleece. I hopped off the bus to see if I could fill a water bottle and was hit by the smell of breakfast. I hadn’t eaten yet, and the hotel buffet was obviously still in full swing, crowded with wealthy Indian families. I got back on the bus hungrier than when I had gotten off , but at least I had water for the trip.
The town of Franz-Joseph was a bit more substantial than Fox Glacier, and there were a few of stops around town after the first one at the hotel. Tony and I were pleasantly surprised that one of the stops added a couple of familiar faces to the passenger list: Tabea and Sabine. They had also gone for a glacier hike the day before, but they didn’t give as glowing a review as I would have of my trek, so I felt glad that I had chosen Fox Glacier over Franz Joseph.
The ride was pleasant, and the landscape slowly changed from temperate mountain rainforest to warm temperate rainforest as we reached the coast and moved north. We stopped briefly at a place called pancake rocks, which is pretty aptly named, as you can see from the photo below.
We made a stop in a jade factory. There was a storage area stocked with jade that had been harvested decades ago, and a guy in the back sculpting a small piece. I talked with him a bit about the process of making some of the pieces so prevalent in New Zealand’s jewelry stores. I bought a small unfinished rectangular piece of stone that I thought I might try my hand at working with later.
Tony made his scheduled departure in Greymouth. He emailed me later to say Greymouth wasn’t as exciting as he had hoped, and wished he’d stayed on the bus to Nelson, but he was headed east across the beautiful Arthur’s Pass to Christchurch on the last leg of his journey. Incidentally, he said that he really enjoyed his stay in Christchurch.
We continued north along the coastline on a winding road that reminded me of a cross between Highway 1 in California and… maybe some portions of Hawaii. The rainfall here supported more lush looking vegetation than is present along California’s coast; certainly more broad leafed plants.
Eventually we reached Nelson, where I shared a cab with Tabea and Sabine to one of the hostels. The hostel was a combined motel, and traditional hostel sitting almost side by side. I stayed in the hostel, Tabea and Sabine had a room reserved in the motel section. I jogged into the center of town and had thai food for a late dinner, then headed back to the hostel, which had a pool, and seemed quite the party scene. I loaded and edited photos, did a few website updates, and scheduled my bus travel for the next morning, then headed to bed.