Don, our B&B host, was already awake and had the breakfast table set with beautiful china, ready to serve us cereal, toast, coffee and tea. He had a container of what he called rata honey. He gave us a quick lesson about New Zealand honey and the difference between Manuka and Rata honey. We learned that they can test honey to tell what flower the bees collected from, and if it is 80% of that type of flower, than that is the type of honey it is. The Rata honey has a higher sugar content and is more white in color than the Manuka honey. It is pretty thick to spread, but I can also tell you it tastes great on toast. While we ate Don gave us a lot of great tips on where to stop for pictures, and to turn down a gravel road to try to find some white Herrons in a lagoon.
We said our goodbyes to Don and the family form Spain, and hit the road. The next section of our trip was a combination of amazing roads with even more amazing views. We would also have a chance to hit a few touristy spots. We took a short hike a long a river, which bring us to your new words of the day. Here in New Zealand, when you go hiking it is not called a trail, it is called a track. They also use the word tramping instead of backpacking.
Our next stop was Pancake Rocks. This was a 20 min walk through a track to see something I have never seen before. A unique geological area that has scientists puzzled as to how the layers of rocks formed in this pattern. We also got to see some large flat seaweed called Mermaid hair, which was easy to see how it got it’s name flowing in the water.
Farther south we took a quick detour to Lake Mahinapua, which had a rich history of steamboats used for commerce and travel, and saw many foreign dignitaries visit. We had the chance to see Weka Birds wandering near the shore. These are the birds that have been fooling people into thinking they are Kiwi birds. They were not too afraid of us, so we got close enough for pictures.
Our final destination for the night would be the famous Franz Josef Glacier. Rain was in the forecast for tonight and all day tomorrow, and it was getting late. It started to rain as we pulled into town. We checked into our hotel, then went to the glacier. The car park was almost full, and lots of tourist wearing rain gear were returning from the hike. It was an hour and 45 min round trip hike to see the glacier, and we had light rain almost the whole time. When we got pack to the parking lot, it was empty except for us and one car. I guess the rain kept all the smart people away. We were exhausted and hungry after such al long day, so we went to town and had dinner, showered, and easily fell asleep. Tomorrow we would spend New Years Eve in one of the counties that would get to ring in 2018 first.