This was Easter Sunday, so we drove in a drenching rain from our campground to Hokatika to attend church. However, we arrived to town about 10:00am, and all four churches that we found started service at 9:30am. We stopped in at one, hoping to sneak in the back and at least catch some of the service. The little church was totally full, though, so we decided we would have our own Easter celebration in our camper van. We found a New World grocery and stocked up on some food. Interesting that everything was open on Easter Sunday, but not on Good Friday.
Liz wanted to dry a few things that had gotten wet, so I dropped her off at a Laundromat and took the boys to gas up Big Jucy. The rain suddenly stopped while we were filling up, and I heard a loud popping sound and looked across the street to see debris spinning in a cyclone and corrugated metal flying across the street. The tornado crossed diagonally in front of use and continued on. We quickly picked up Liz who was just down the block from the hotel that was hit. It ripped a good portion of the roof off. We decided it was time to get out of town at that point.
We drove to Hokitika gorge about 30km inland from town. There is a swing bridge across the gorge and river. It’s a short fifteen minute walk; the water is typically blue colored, but because of the heavy rains was just kind of gray. It continued to rain at that point, so after a quick couple of pictures, we retreated to the camper in the car park. Our friend Karen had sent some Easter egg dying supplies from the States, so we boiled eggs and dyed them with vinegar we had begged from a café the day before. We read the Easter story and prayed together as a family. Definitely a memorable Easter.
We continued on from there to Franz Josef Glacier Village and checked into the Rainforest campground. It was much more upscale than our previous campgrounds, but had a Spring Break kind of vibe. Rainforest is an apt name, as we were surrounded by ferns and palms.
It was a slow morning; we got some laundry done finally and cooked a late pancake breakfast in the communal kitchen.
We drove to the Franz Josef Glacier Valley Track. It starts in a rainforest and then opens up onto the valley floor that was once covered in glacier ice. We passed several waterfalls along the way and walked most of the time near the river flowing out from the glacier. The glacier ice is a faint blue color and the ice extends up to the peaks. It moves downhill about two to four meters per day. Helicopter tours circled in and out of the valley the whole day. It took us about two and a half hours to do the round trip, as Cohen was particularly slow, but we got some great pictures and it was an awesome site.
A short drive from Franz Josef, we continued on to Fox Glacier village in the early afternoon. We stayed at a Top 10 campsite that was really great. It has a playground for the boys and a nice kitchen area. Liz had some time to sketch a portrait of Elias while Cohen took a nap and I read more Anna Karenina. Elias made a friend named Oscar from Sweden and quickly established an international spy ring. The peaks of Mt. Tasman and Mt. Cook were visible from our campground and lit up brilliantly at sunset.
The boys got to watch some Tom and Jerry before bed, and Liz and I watched Moonrise Kingdom after they fell asleep.