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Published: October 21st 2009
12th October - Franz Josef Glaciers Heli-Hike, Skydive, Lake Matterson & finally onto Greymouth.
Today was one hell of an action filled day! We woke up really early and made our way to the Heli-hike office, from there we were weighed and then we crossed over the road to a little shack to get our boots and special coats on. After a quick word or two regarding safety, we were split us into three groups (we were group number 2), each group got on to their helicopters and made there way over to the Glacier. The helicopter ride was not what I thought it would be like, I thought helicopters would feel really bumpy, but actually it was super smooth! The views were just stunning! We flew over the Glacier and made a nice big loop around it before landing on the Glacier!
We were then led to the group and our guides gave us our crampons to put over our boots so that we would not slip on the ice. We then were divided into two groups (which we were quite happy about as there was a really annoying American woman on the tour… “has anyone got a
pair of size 3 as I appear to have two left ones” holding them up in the air, only for the guide to tell her she was holding one upside down!!!).
We started our “hike” which was fun as we went through blue ice tunnels and got to have a feel of the vastness of the glacier. The early Maori knew Franz Josef as Ka Roimata o Hine Hukatere (Tears of the Avalanche Girl), Legend tells of a girl losing her lover who fell from the local peaks and her flood of tears freezing into the glacier. The glacier was explored in 1865 by an Austrian Julian Haast, who named it after the Austrian Emperor. After our little hike on the glaciers we then had another helichopter ride back to the town, from which we immediately set off to Fox Glacier for Steve’s, skydive!!
We arrived a little late, as we some how managed to get lost! Once we had gotten there we were taken straight to the office where Steve was given a form to sign and I also decided to do a scenic flight so I’d be in the plane too! Steve was then rushed off as his
guide made him put a suit on and then quickly strapped him up while explaining to Steve and the group (who were to jump after Steve) how the dive would unroll; he then put a parachute on me….( Ah!). We then walked over to the tiny plane, before getting in the guide turned to me and explained that if anything went wrong with the plane I would have to jump out wait a bit and then pull on the silver handle for the parachute to come out, he told me if I pulled it too soon I would get tangled in the plane! My face must have been quite priceless cause he then smiled mockingly and told me not to worry that it wouldn’t happen; at this point I was having second thoughts on not doing the skydive, at least Steve was attached to a professional!!!!
We boarded the small plane and took off, the views were spectacular we had Mt Cook, Mt Tasman, Fox Glacier, Franz Josef Glacier and the Tasman Sea all in a 360 degree viewing! It was then Steve’s time to jump out the driver opened the doors, wind rushed in everywhere and wooosh the guide and Steve were gone! The driver spun the plane around and pointed out where they were, a little white dot was quickly falling through the sky! The driver followed them down and I got to see the parachute opening and then soon after we went to land. It was definitely a brilliant experience, I kind of wish I had done the dive but I’m sure there will be other opportunities! We then thought we had done all we needed to do in that area so we continued our way north onto Greymouth.
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