Franz Josef, a great opportunity missed...

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December 14th 2011
Published: December 20th 2011
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Thursday 8th Dec

Leaving the National Park, we made our way to Wellington. I've not heard great things about Wellington and I'm not particularly exciting so I'm really pleasantly surprised when we get there to find a buzzing, bustling (by NZ standards), but equally chilled city by the sea. We book into Base hostel in the centre and get a room on the 6h floor with fantastic views over the harbor. we leave tomorrow bright and early to catch the 7am ferry but I stay out drinking with new friends regardless.

We go to a weird bar called 'Alice', down a dodgy back alley and feel like we're the only ones that know about this place as we are taken there by locals. We arrive and are led down a pitch black corridor grasping out to the person in front for assurance as we 'fall down the rabbit hole'. The bar is themed and has weird and wonderful pictures hanging on the walls, writing up the brickwork and an old 1950s style tv in the corner playing the original, black and white Alice in Wonderland movie. It's great and we dance for hours then get back to the hostel just a few hours before we have to get up.

Friday 9th Dec

The ferry crossing between North and South Island is supposed to be one of the most impressive and beautiful in the world. I missed most of it.

Saturday 10th Dec

After a long drive, through terrifying winding roads and some absolutely fantastic scenery of high mountains with their sides covered from top to bottom in the greenest forest I've ever seen, we get to Old Macdonalds farm in Marahau. Me and a few others have arranged to eat together so I make chicken and chorizo risotto but the supermarket doesn't have risotto rice and their version of chorizo is very different to actual chorizo so it's more of a chicken and frankfurter sushi rice salad.

Sunday 11th Dec

Up early, once again. Myself, Karina, Elke, Anita and our driver 'Dippy' get picked up for a chilled morning of sailing. The day is grey and windy but I love being on sail boats so whilst everyone else is huddled under blankets, I sit at the front of the cat with the wind in my hair (it takes me hours to later get the wind out of my hair). The sail boat drops us off at Anchorage on the beach where we are to make our own way back on foot to Marahau and Old Macdonalds Farm. The walk back takes me several times from beach to rainforest and back again. Stillwater Bay is my favorite and reminds me of watching bounty adverts in my childhood when I actually didn't believe that such places could actually exist. A waterfall slides down from the forest onto the sand and carves its way to the sea. The scene is pure turquoise and e sand an orange gold. It's like so many photos that seemed so unconvincingly real, as if photoshopped to enhance the color. But that truly is what this place looks like.

Sunday 11th Dec

We make the long journey from Marahau to Greymouth today which involves around 7hours on the bus. I'm getting really quite fed up with sitting on the coach with just 20min photo stops and not really getting to 'see' New Zealand. We arrive late afternoon at our destinations and then we are on the go again in the morning. The Stray bus is great if you have 3months to a year to travel the route as you can get off and stay at each stop for a few weeks or even months but when you just stay one night or two nights in each place, it feels so rushed. You don't get a real feel for the place and it's so sad as it is such a wonderful place.

Monday 12th Dec

Tuesday 13th Dec

Left Greymouth after driving around for an hour in some sort of comedy sketch trying to find people who were missing in the town centre somewhere. Arrived at Franz Joseph

Wednesday 14th Dec

Rain was expected in Franz Joseph today and we were told that they had forecast about 18cm in 24hours. That sounded like a lot to me so I was expecting heavy rainfall but nothing can quite express just how much rain came the next day. I can only assume that it was something like the amount of rain they get during the monsoon period in Asia and it did not stop all day, not even for a second and so the hike was off. We were devastated. I wasn't sure if I wanted to do it as wasn't feeling 100% but when I heard that it wasn't even an option, I was so disappointed. Instead we did nothing but waste time in the morning, got some lunch and went to the hot pools, which I highly recommend. The thermal pools are man made but they are outside and open to the elements. It was still pouring with rain and so we took a giant hot bath together in the pouring rain. It was an interesting experience.


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