After spending some time in Kaikoura, we drove across the island, spent a night at a beautiful campsite in the middle of nowhere and checked out the Pancake Rocks. Photos documenting these stops will be included in a big final wrap-up post (there weren't enough of them to warrant a post of their own).
Anyways, we then drove down to Fox Glacier. We stayed at a fancy holiday park and finally took a shower (woop!) and had a good sleep before our glacier hike the next day.
In recent years, Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier have changed considerably. It is no longer possible to hike up on to Franz Josef Glacier because of how much it has retreated. The only option is now to take a helicopter which is hella expensive. So we opted to do a day glacier hike on Fox Glacier. While it is still accessible to walk up on to the glacier, it certainly doesn't look like what it used to either. (If you're interested, here is a picture of Fox Glacier in 2008 compared to 2012 and here is Franz Josef Glacier in 2008 and 2012 as well). Our guide told us that Fox Glacier Guides is in the midst of updating their brochures to reflect the changes and predicted the company might even be obsolete in a few years.
All this to say, the hike was a little different than we imagined. We had to climb quite a bit of rock to get to the glacier. The glacier was also grimier than we thought it would be. (It certainly didn't look like this!) I culled the photos and chose only the prettiest photos of the glacier for this post. :) Anyways, it was still really a neat experience. Who knows if we'll be able to hike a glacier again?! One of my favourite parts was when we were able to crawl into a glacier cave. Our guide said that caves like this open up for a few weeks and then as the glacier continues to melt, they crash in. We were so lucky that we were able to visit it! It felt like a totally different world in there.