Today was the best day of the trip so far. We woke up to bright sun and were on the road fairly early. The start was quite level and I stopped in a Maori craft shop in the first town, chatted with Lou the carver for a while, made a small purchase and continued on my way to the town of Franz Josef, starting point for exploration of the Franz Josef glacier. All along the way, the scenerey was magnificent, with lots of green pastureland and forest with snow capped peaks in the background.
At Franz Josef, most of us put the bikes on the trailers and rode up a short distance to the visitor center at the glacier. From there we hiked for about 45 minutes to the face of the glacier. With the perfect weather conditions, it was a great side excursion. We then hiked back, ate the small lunches that we had packed and hopped on the bikes. [Those who hadn't made this side excursion had already bicycled on to Fox, the center for exploring the Fox glacier. Fox is where we are staying tonight.]
The ride back down from the glacier led us back to the main road and then to the "three sisters," the three small peaks (about 1200 feet high) that we had to climb and descend in order to reach fox. They were not too difficult, but provided some fun climbing, good descents, and magnificent views. At the bottom of the third hill is the town of Fox.
Tomorrow is a rest day. We have lots of options, including helicopter flights ovr the glaciers, hiking in the glaciers, walking around lake Matheson, or setting off on our own on the bikes. Most of us felt that we got a our view of the glacier today and will do something more relaxing like taking the 90 minute walk around the lake. I'll do that and keep my options open for the rest of the day.