Published: July 14th 2009
July 14th 2009
The walk from the valley - the glacier is a 40 min walk from here!
After leaving the farm Sonia drove me down to Franz Joseph the glacier country where I was going to stay and relax a few days after working for seven days straight and also go on one of the glacier hikes. The hostel that I stayed in was brilliant. It was called Montrose and the guy that ran it - Ray was lovley and helpful. It was the first place that I've come across in NZ to have central heating. I still can't believe that they don't have it! It's freezing cold with snow outside and its fan heaters and single glazed windows all the way - madness! I spent most of my time in Franz eating sweets, watching TV and talking to people which was a nice way to spend a few days. I was in a two bed share dorm and I got a couple of really nice dorm mates during my stay here too. The first girl was called Emily and we really got on and had a nice evening together. We'd just been to the supermarket and we ended up chatting for ages in the dorm and we had a bit of a buffet from our shopping which
was nice. The second girl I shared with was a Scottish girl called Mary, she was lovley too and we sat around and had a lot of tea and crumpets together. She had a lovley, sweet nature and she said I was the nicest person that she'd ever shared a dorm with! Bless her. It's a shame both of them were going off in a totally different direction to me, I could have travelled with either of them for a while.
The first day I was there I read and watched films all day and then I took myself off to the local hot pools for a soak. It was very nice but a bit of a rip off at 24$ for 3 pools compared to Hamner Springs where it was 14$ for about 6 different pools. The second day I went off on the half day glacier hike. I had been deliberating for ages whether to do the half day or the full day but I am really glad I chose the half. I think the full day would have been too much, it was 120$ instead of 90$ and it looked like you just saw more of
the same to me. We set off from the glacier office in the morning on the bus and it just took ten mins to get up to the valley to walk to the start of the glacier. The really strange thing about the whole glacier is that it is so decieving. It is an optical illusion and when we got to the bottom of the valley it only looked to be a ten minuite walk to the glacier but actually it was a 2k - 40 min walk! We walked up the valley and then round the side of the glacier by the steps that the other guides had cut. The stairs were very well done but they were very steep in parts and we all had to put our crampons on to get up them and walk on the ice. I had a bit of a disaster at this point as I'd put my camera in the same bag as the crampons and I realised that dry mud had fallen off them into the lens of my camera and it wouldn't open anymore so that was the end of the glacier photos! Luckily when I got back to the
office later I managed to sort it which saved my buying a new one but just meant I didn't have very many photos of the trip and that was another reason why I was glad I'd not chosen to do the full day. Most of the ice on the hike we did was full of rocks and dirt but as we got further up we saw some clear, blue ice and some pretty impressive cravasses and holes & we had to squeeze through a few of them aswell. The scary thing about walking through a cravasse is that the guides pack them with snow and ice so that there is a path though them but underneath that there is just a big drop so they have to keep checking that it's safe as the glacier moves all the time with the sun. The guide we had was very good and informative and he told us all about the geology of the glacier as we walked round. We had some lunch up at the top and then headed back down the glacier and into the valley.
I am really glad that I got the chance to go up onto the
The terminal face of the glacier
glacier and have a look at it and I did feel that I learnt a lot about them. The most interesting thing about it all for me was how everything looked so deceptive. When we were at the highest point we were going to the guide pointed out some spikes sticking up at the top of the glacier which looked like they were just a few metres high but he told us that they were actually the size of four storey buildings.
I really enjoyed my time in Franz, it's a lovley little town and I enjoyed my glacier experience - although I've got to say I was glad when it was finished and I was back in the hostel having tea and crumpets with Mary!
The day after the hike I set off on the Magic Bus for Wanaka............
There are more photos below