Published: January 3rd 2007June 20th 2006
not the Austrian archduke but one of NZ's most famous landmarks, a Glacier
in the Wetstlands National Park. Its one of only three that descend from the mountains into temperate rainforest, now I've seen all of them Puerto Moreno, Franz Josef and Fox.
We arrived on the Stray Bus from Barrytown mid-avo. First thing we noticed where majestic views
and just how damn cold it was. The town, Franz Josef is at the bottom of the glacier and snuggled into the Southern Alps. We stayed at the Rainforest Retreat Lodge, sounds alot nicer than it actually was, full of Kiwi Experience types.
The next days weather report was grim so delayed our glacier hike and had a night out. Hit the only open bar
in town with a few fellow Stray travelers. Quickly descended into sambucas and a great party trip which involved Mark and myself
having flaming bucas (in a wine glass) stuck to our backside!
didn't feel a thing. Mark sneaked in an absinthe, the next days hangover lasted most of the day.
Clear sky perfect conditions, the Day Hike
started with a long walk along the glacial valley
to the glaciers base. Ice
Crampons fitted and we started to climb, our group was 8 fellow hikers and a guide. Slight exaggeration to say we climbed, steps and pathways had already been cut into the ice. To begin with the safety
precautions where a little OTT and it was no more difficult than a walk in the park.
In next to no time we where surrounded by 30ft walls of ice
, every now and then getting on top of the Glacier, views of the valley below and starting to realise just how far we'd climbed! The terrain got alot rougher, from distance glaciers look smooth and flat but in fact there actually a network of ridges and crevasses
. All caused by its constant motion, caves and tunnels also form. Shades had to be worn due to the sun reflecting off the ice. We climbed out of a couple of steep crevasses which required some nifty
foot work! By lunchtime we where about a quarter of the way up the visible part of the glacier. It’s along way down! Trekked back a different route navigating our way through more crevasses and watching our steps carefully, I think we all ended up with wet feet.
Even stopping at a spiral tunnel
for a quick ride. Awesome experience!
In fact we had so much fun the 3 of us booked a helicopter
flight over glacier the next morning. The flight lasted about 30mins, with great views of the mosaic glacier and a few stomach turning turns. It came as a bit of shock
when the pilot landed on the Neve (glacier summit) and told us we could get out. We’re all in trainers and piled out into knee deep snow for panoramic views and quick snow ball fight
There are more photos below