Day 7: Fox Glacier to Blackball

by The Crew on March 8, 2012

We started off the morning by checking the cloud cover and heading down to the Helicopter company we’d book a flight to the top of the Glacier with.

Now Flyboy is named “Flyboy” for a very good reason.  He used to be the Chief Test Pilot and Flight Lead for all Special Operations with the Australian SAS on Counter-Terrorist Operations.

(Flyboy can kill a man from 400 metres with a magnifying glass and a spoon!)

He hadn’t been in a chopper for a while, but herded us all in and away we went.  The chopper dropped in to Franz Josef (another nearby glacier town) and we picked up a young French woman who was taking the ride too.

No Surprise On Who Gets The Girl!

No Surprise On Who Gets The Girl!

Up on top of the glacier for a bit of a look around – amazing views as you might expect.

Then it was back down the mountain and a great breakfast at Cafe Neve.

We then rode up for a look at the terminal face of Franz Josef.

Terminal Face Franz Josef Glacier

Terminal Face Franz Josef Glacier

Heading For Blackball

Then it was onto the bikes and off – aiming for the old mining town of Blackball and the legendary Formerly The Blackball Hilton (with that name I thought it would be an older style 5 star joint – a little mistaken there!).

Some lovely bending bits today as we went over mountains, through valley and then along coastal highways.  Nice roads again with hardly any traffic.

We stopped in at Hokitika for lunch at a cafe and topped up at the service station.

I won’t name any names (it was Birdman) kept his record intact of dropping his bike by managing to drop it in the service station driveway.

Formerly The Blackball Hilton

Then it was onto Blackball and the Blackball Hotel (better know as the very cheekily named Formerly the Blackball Hilton).

The wonderful old mining town pub turned 100 in June 2001 and was the place for the start of the labour movement in New Zealand.

The host was Chris, he’s also got a mate in managing the place now, and he is a terrific guy.  Helping us to store the bikes, get sorted in our rooms and then taking great care of us as we relaxed in the bar for the rest of the afternoon and evening.

Bikes into the shed at Blackball

Bikes into the shed at Blackball

Publican Chris makes sure Golden Knob has room for dessert!

Publican Chris makes sure Golden Knob has room for dessert!

We had the very good luck to meet 2 couples – Danny and Heather & Lex and Carol – a fine bunch of characters!

The girls were taking the husbands on a Mystery Tour for a few days – frankly I reckon the mystery was how these 2 dopey blokes ended up with a couple of good lookers as wives!

Brendon (r) joins in the fun with the happy couples!

Brendon (r) joins in the fun with the happy couples!

Blackball Hilton Does A Terrific Dinner & Breakfast

After a bit of a wander around Blackball (it’s a very small town) we settled back into the bar and dinner.

The dinner was delcious and plentiful and then it was a relaxing few hours chatting with the others in the bar, including Rod and Lyn who were traveling around the Island on motorbikes taking the unsealed roads.

Rily and Birdman toast David Lange!

Riley and Birdman toast David Lange!

In a surprise to everyone, Birdman flogged Drop Top Doc in dart.

I know what you’re thinking – “How pissed was the Doc?!”

Amazingly, Drop Top Doc ain’t a big drinker and Birdman beat him sober.

Birdman, incredibly, wins darts against Drop Top Doc

Birdman, incredibly, wins darts against Drop Top Doc

Paulie toasts Birdman's amazing win

Paulie (l) toasts Birdman's amazing win

Golden Knob saves time and washing up and drinks straight from the bottle

Golden Knob saves time and washing up and drinks straight from the bottle

Flyboy relaxes whilst Birdman falls asleep

Flyboy relaxes whilst Birdman falls asleep

For More On The Blackball Hilton

For more on the Blackball Hilton check out my review here.