I’m sitting in our cabin at Franz Joseph, looking at what may be the most spectacular view in atll our travels. From here we can see right into the glacier valley and, when the clouds part, to the top of he glacier and some glimpses of the Aroaki Main Range (although I don’t think we can see Mt Cook).

In the background one can hear the buzzing of helicopters. Dodgy weather allowing, we will take one of those machines up on to the glacier tomorrow, because it is the only way Paula will get anything like an experience of the mountains. Liam and I will take the glacier terminal walk on the morning: about as close as one can get without considerable risk or special equipment (or both).

The trip to the mountains was anticlimactic compared to the journey over Arthurs Seat. We might have been more excited if we had realised that the road had been washed away in places in the previous day’s torrent and only re-opened shortly before. The trip along the coast, beside a wild sea on one hand and the brooding ranges on the other, was quite an eye-opener.

From Greymouth we drove south in relatively fine weather, the country growing wilder and more sparsely populated as we went. Paula’s irritation with her ankle and her crutches drove her into the the supermarket at Hokitiki for victuals for our meals at Franz Joseph. I don’t think I can make jokes about shopping with the disabled.

The road was apparently a huge challenge to build but is a bit of a challenge to drive. The flooding had abated but one could still see areas where the debris had been washed over the road. On our left, the ranges rose towards Mt Cook and the glaciers. After Hokitiki, we were on our own except for the extraordinary phalanx of campervans, carrying New Zealand’s population of young and old nomads.

I wandered around and took a few pictures, experimenting with the lens. God was laughing when I bought it – he/she knew what the weather would be …

We had a pretty decent meal: home made hamburgers and puddings for desert. I burnt enough calories to make up for a couple of beers while whipping pouring cream in a stainless bowl with a whisk.

Fingers crossed for adventures tomorrow.