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Published: June 29th 2017
Geo: -43.3891, 170.182
It all started with a sneeze. Nat down. Suspected broken neck and paralysis. Only 8am. Still time enough for a quick morning stroll before we head down to Franz Joseph for a helicopter ride and glacier hike. Its only a couple hours south and only 10 minutes to the beach. Wrong. The path to the beach is covered in mud. Deep mud. Deep enough to swallow and break my thongs. We saw a baby horse. That was pretty cool. By the time we got back to our hotel for departure and Id checked our route I realized we were behind schedule. It was further than I thought. We needed to average a speed of 260km p/hr to make it to our Glacier Hike on time. Oh and Nats life is flashing before her eyes so looks like I'm driving. Buckle up.
At the end of the day, we made it to Franz Joseph in the nick of time, including a petrol and toilet stop, at the cost of a ruptured bladder and possibly becoming sterile. Nat ended up driving 2/3 of the way. I'm an alright driver, but shes the grand master. A seasoned veteran, especially on windy roads. Its
not like driving my dying car to the train station and back. We did see a suspected kiwi on the way. Just beyond Parapoa park.
So we arrive, blue skies, sunshine, 10 minutes to spare, ready to gear up for a glacier hike, only to be told 'Were deeply sorry' all helicopter flights today are cancelled. Its windy up there apparently. All tours are cancelled. I look outside and theres not enough breeze to make your hair move. It looks like the most beautiful day Franz Joseph has seen in years. Instead, we pick up a dissatisfying refund and try to decide what to do with our suddenly ample time. I'm not good at making nothing seem exciting.
Theres a walk to the glacier, at least to get a view of it, so we opt to go for it. Its a nice walk in truth. We try to swallow our bitterness and enjoy it. Its a wide mountain valley track, overlooked by towering mountains dozens of waterfalls and a gentle stream down the centre.
Earlier we were told some guides were stranded on the glacier due to helicopter issues. Throughout the afternoon we hear probably ten helicopters fly overhead, each
being like a dagger in our hearts, like being forced to relive some long repressed torment or tragedy. The view of the glacier itself is nice, but a little underwhelming, I think we've seen better in Norway and Svalbard.
Next lunch at a bakery. A cold average pie and 'Glacier' pasty that was drier than the Sahara dessert. Were finding anything Glacier-related to cause grave heartache.
We needed a couple more activities to fill the afternoon now. First, a kiwi experience. Ive always wanted to get a close look at a kiwi. $35nz each? OK, a bit pricey, but who cares?
This was putrid value. It was literally three rooms. One at entrance with some kiwi info. The second was the kiwi exhibit, almost too dark to see the kiwi and two of the three small chicks. We were told silence was critical to the animals health. I guess the construction worker didn't get the memo. The sounds of intense drilling into the walls and blaring car horns annoyed customers more than the birds. The last room had a bit of glacier info (not that we were keen on thinking about that right now) and 2.67 minutes later we were finished.
We checked in at our hotel at Glenfern Villas, which although a bit pricey seemed very comfortable, just outside of town. We emptied our luggage, mingled with the resident pet sheep and llamas and changed into swimwear. Last stop; the Franz Joseph hotsprings. For $50nzd for both of us, this was a decent deal. We spent a couple hours here soaking, relaxing, the springs doing wonders for Nats neck. With her recovering, and a comfy hotel villa awaiting us we opted to grab some take away Indian/Thai and sit at our villa with a bottle of Reisling from Gieisens and Lord of the Rings. Some fireworks crackled outside for 'Guy Fawkes' celebrations (why is this a NZ celebration) and we settled in for a comfy quiet night. Its late now, and tomorrow were off to Queenstown. We made the best of a disappointing day today, but I hope tomorrow is better.
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