Franz Josef

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September 28th 2015
Published: September 30th 2015
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Based on their ambivalence towards Fox Glacier, I wasn't confident about getting the girls to Franz Josef glacier. They did perk up once their devices were connected to the unlimited wifi at the motel and, with a good night's sleep under their belt, were fairly positive about the day's planned activities.
I also thought a wee bit of bribery might also encourage them along - so it was frappes all round. Massive jugs of dairy delight (milk, ice cream and cream) flavoured with caramel or chocolate and they were putty in my hands. The sugar induced rush enabled them to run up Sentinel Rock like it was a challenge on The Biggest Loser. Taking on the glacier, they made the forty minutes ascent look easy. They did, however, observe that the glacier was even "more boring" than yesterday's. The rapidly retreating F J glacier did look a lot less imposing than its neighbourg, the Fox, but it would have been remiss of us if we hadn't popped in for a look considering it is only a few minutes out of the town.
Lunch at the European Bakery was only marginally more disappointing than hiking a rocky outcrop for an hour and a half. Seated at a table in what could be considered the untidiest front yard on the south island, little midges set about attacking any piece of exposed flesh. Mainly Dayna's ankles. We ordered the food in what probably was once a garage and Dayna wondered if it was legal to open a cafe in your house. Good question.
We ate quickly and hurried out of there before the little insects carried us away. While Dean and the girls went over to the i site, I took a detour to the historic church of St James. Built in 1931, with an altar which once overlooked the glacier, its musty smell wasn't conducive to a long visit but it is in such a great location that it's worth a stop.
Back at the motel, Dean had got chatting with the maid who put him on to a discount site called 'Book me'. If only we knew about this a week ago! Oh well, we know now. Lots of attractions are heavily discounted and we were able to buy tickets to the wildlife centre for a Kiwi encounter. Excellent.
The exhibit featured a couple of active kiwis, which was pretty cool. They kept us entertained for a while before we moved into the informative (and static) exhibits on glaciers, pests and birds of the area. We finished our excursion to the Wildlife centre with a 'behind the scenes' tour. Seeing baby kiwis in their little brooder boxes and incubation huts was fantastic. We learned a lot about the Kiwi and why a programme such as this helps their chances of survival. The little stoat which was introduced to get rid of the rabbits (rather like the cane toad solution...), along with dogs and cats, are causing the Kiwi population to decline at such a rate that they are now endangered. Until I saw them scratching around their enclosures, I hadn't realised how cute they were. We left the centre more knowledgeable about the NZ icon but also concerned about what we heard on the news; there is talk about Wellington Zoo thinking about getting a panda. The exorbitant costs involved would be better spent on conservation programs for the national bird.
We ate dinner at a restaurant to which Dayna declared was like eating in the kiwi brooder room - due to the low lit, red tinged effect. The food was okay but the highlight was when I expressed my displeasure (with a UURRGGHHHH!!!!!!!) when an extremely loud burping sound was produced in the vicinity of my right ear. I thought it was Dean being rude, but upon turning around I discovered it was a stranger. He gave ME a greasy and walked away. Was I in the wrong? I didn't burp over someone's shoulder. My indignation kept the girls occupied for the next half hour, replacing Dean's escapades on the ski slopes as the moment to keep reliving over and over.
The evening ended with a short walk to view glow worms. Fifteen minutes to the end of the track and we saw a possum and one little light. Walking back, however, we managed to focus more effectively and spotted a few more. Not sure what the collective noun is for a group of glow worms, but once the girls could be convinced to turn their lights off, we had more of a chance to notice them. The girls were petrified of dying on the track, but there was more chance of Dean killing them because they kept their lights on.

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