Alex Knob Track

(18 KMs Walking)

Sunday 19th March

Fox Glacier

Is it possible to have too many views of a glacier?  Given that we had decided not to do the helicopter flight over a glacier, today we were going to see whether the views were any better after a four hour walk to the top of Alex Knob and an elevation gain of 1,130 metres

We wanted to ensure that we could at least see the Franz Josef glacier before the cloud set in, so we were up at 6am and on the road before 7:30 for the 30 minute drive to the start of the 17.2km walk. 

It was another sensational day - blue skies and no wind, so we were optimistic that the views would be worth the climb. The track was classified as advanced for experienced and well-equipped trampers only.  We had a little backpack and a second folding backpack full of water and food, so hopefully that classified us as well-equipped for today's climb.

The first 1.4km to the turnoff to Lake Wombat was easy walking and soon after we began to climb as the track zig-zagged steeply up to Rata lookout for our first glimpse of the glacier - still in shade in the early morning light.   

The track became a little rougher and narrower, and continued climbing up to Christmas lookout where we stopped for our morning coffee and enjoyed fantastic views across to the glacier.  We also shared a delicious Crafty Weka Bar - full of oats, peanuts and sesame seeds. Made in NZ, these bars are worth looking out for, but doubt we will find them in Australia. 

We continued climbing through the forest, and the track was rough in parts but easily manageable with conveniently placed rocks and roots.  We could still hear the occasional helicopter but the noise faded as we ascended.  Eventually the track emerged from the forest and became more open and we started to see glimpses of the views, with mountains in one direction and the ocean in the other.  We passed Louisa's peak named after Alex's wife.

Finally we reached the trig point at the top and the views were sensational across the Franz Josef glacier, Main divide and the West Coast back to Okarito lagoon and out to the  Tasman sea .  We ate our lunch overlooking the glacier and spotting the helicopters as they made their way up one side of the glacier and down the other.  After lunch we continued a little further to the end of the trail, before making our way back down.  

It was slow going at first as the track was rough and steep, but we picked up speed after Christmas lookout and made it back to the car some 8 hours after we started.

The cloud had closed in and we felt we had really made the most of our day as we made our way back to our accommodation. After showering, we relaxed on our little deck with some cheese, hummus and crackers and a glass of pinot noir.  

We had decided to go to Betsey Jane's for dinner, given its excellent reviews and nearby location.  As they don't take bookings, we walked down there just after 6pm to be told that the next available table was at 6:45.  Just enough time for a drink at the nearby pub, where Simon made the most of happy hour with a half price beer.

Dinner was delicious and we both enjoyed sharing a warm chocolate brownie for dessert.  Despite the forecast rain, the cloud had actually lifted and we had views of Mount Tasman and Mount Cook as we made our way home.  A perfect end to a day full of outstanding views.