by Nancy Bestor
I’m a planner. I like to know what I’m going to be doing two hours from now, two days from now, and two weeks from now. When traveling, I like to have seen the hotels I’ll be staying at ahead of time. I like to read restaurant reviews prior to dining, and I like to know how far I’m going to be traveling to my next destination. Spontaneity is not really in my vocabulary.
But alas, travel plans don’t always go the way we expect. Hotel pictures are frequently deceiving, and a good restaurant review on Yelp doesn’t guarantee a good meal. And then there’s weather – it seems that Mother Nature often has a mind of her own. Thus, sometimes you’ve just got to make lemonade out of lemons.
When Bob and I were in New Zealand earlier this year it was their “summer.” The weather wasn’t hot, rather it was mostly very pleasant. But when we got to Franz Josef, a town on the Western coast of the South Island of New Zealand, a place we had pre-booked for three nights, it started raining. But it wasn’t just raining, it was pouring. Our plan had been to do lots of hiking in this beautiful part of the country. Franz Josef boasts two beautiful glaciers, Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier, as well as many other outstanding treks with stunning vistas. But did I mention that it poured? It rained so hard that many paths and walkways were completely washed out by flooding. And in addition to the rain, the stunning vistas were often shrouded by fog.
But Bob and I agreed that we had no control over the weather (a shocking revelation, I know) and just figured we would play the cards that nature dealt us and get outside whenever the rain let up. New Zealand is incredibly organized for tourists. Each city we visited had amazing tourist offices, boasting great maps, the ability to make reservations for any kind of activity you wanted to do, and most importantly for us, the latest news on open tracks for hiking.
One tourist office was directly across the street from our Franz Josef hotel, and we stopped in many times to get updates on hiking paths. The national park workers were diligent and worked as fast as they could to get paths (even makeshift ones) open for hiking, and detailed, up to date news was always available at the tourist office. Information such as “this path will be open at 3pm this afternoon, or another path at 10am tomorrow,” could not have been better.
So even though the weather was iffy, we hiked anyway. Yes, our hikes were cold, wet and foggy, but we dressed appropriately, and every now and then the clouds would break and we’d get a stunning view of the glaciers. We may not have been able to see the perfect reflection of Mt. Cook and Mt. Tasman in the still waters of Lake Matheson, but we got to pose for a great kiss on a beautiful walking bridge with no one around to bother us. And perhaps we didn’t get as up close and personal to the primary viewpoint of Franz Josef Glacier, because the path had completely washed away, but we did get up close and personal to some beautiful sheep on a hike along Gillespie’s Beach. This hike had an awesome miner’s tunnel too, at the end of a jungle-like hiking trail.
I dare say our three days in Franz Josef with inclement weather worked out just perfectly. It turns out our lemonade was really delicious.