Franz Josef Glacier & The Maori Legend
Ngāi Tahu (the local Māori tribe) tell the story of Hinehukatere who lost her true love in an avalanche while climbing in the mountains of Westland:
Hinehukatere was extremely strong and fearless and loved climbing in the mountains. She persuaded her lover Wawe to climb with her. Wawe was less experienced in the mountains, but enjoyed accompanying his beloved.
An avalanche hit the lovers as they were climbing, and Wawe was swept from the peaks to his death. Hinehukatere was heart-broken and her grief caused her to cry rivers of tears, which flowed down the mountain and were frozen by the gods. Her frozen tears of aroha (love) stay as a reminder of her grief and give the glacier its name - Kā Roimata o Hinehukatere – The Frozen Tears of Hinehukatere. Source
Roberts Point Track
Originally I planned to do Alex Knobb Track to get a nice view of the Glacier. Thankfully I struck up a conversation with one of the waiters at the Te Waonui Forest Lodge to get her advice on that hike because she actually gave me a better recommendation: Roberts Point Track.
Though a shorter hike (5.5 hours against 8-hours), it was much more difficult, visually interesting, and a much more worthwhile experience than Alex Knobb. It didn't take much persuasion, especially since there were waterfalls, swinging bridges, and more scenic vistas. (Alex Knobb had only two lookout points, and was mostly brush then a steep incline to the top.)
Moss & Fern Everywhere!
It seriously seemed as if everything was covered in moss & fern. It made for very cushioned hiking. On my way down, I'd need to hold onto the rock face or tree trunks for balance support, and it was super nice to have the cool, cushioned moss. It really felt like carpet.
Not one, not two, not three, but FOUR swinging bridges!
Alright! Those swinging bridges were something else! Some were short, some were loooooong, and others were more swingy than others. Of course, it was the highest and the longest one that swung the most.
Getting up to Roberts Point was the #1 goal! I needed to go for it. One foot in front of the other, and don't look down. (Of course I looked down!)
Lunch at the Top!
After what felt like 16,000 lunges, I reached the top! The view was spectacular and it was really neat to see the Glacier "up close." Grateful for a clear and sunny day, as the weather in the days leading up to this one were cloudy with 0% visibility to the glacier.
Pete's Pool: A Kettle Lake
Pete's Pool is a small "Kettle Lake," which on this clear day provided beautiful reflections of the glacier.
What's a Kettle Lake? Let me share with you an explanation from Wikipedia: A kettle (kettle hole, pothole) is a shallow, sediment-filled body of water formed by retreating glaciers or draining floodwaters. The kettles are formed as a result of blocks of ice calving from glaciers and becoming submerged in the sediment on the outwash plain.