The West Coast of the South Island


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Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » West Coast
October 7th 2010
Published: October 19th 2010
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Fox GlacierFox GlacierFox Glacier

Fox Glacier Valley
Leaving Nelson early the following day and making our way south along the west coast, it became clear that the weather was turning for the worse. Not surprising really as the west coast of the south island is notoriously unpreditacble. Greymouth would be as far as we would drive today with a few quick stop offs at Buller Gorge (The longest swinbridge in New Zealand at 100m's long), Cape Foulwind (the location of a large fur seal colony) and Punakaiki (The very unique 'Pancake Rocks' - aptly named as they look like stacks of pancakes).

After a night in Greymouth we travelled further south again to The Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers where we would be doing our glacier hike. Our first two nights were spent in the very quaint and peaceful Fox Glacier village, but, with the weather as it was, we could only do a short walk to the Fox Glacier face before rain set in heavy for the entire day. The following day, however, the weather was much clearer and we managed to do a full day hike up the Franz Josef Glacier.

Once again we found ourselves kitting up in our snow gear (Waterproof overalls,
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Mking our way up the glacier.
hiking boots, crampons & ice axes) and our day began early with a 2km walk to the foot of the glacier face. From here it would be a simple 6 hour trek through the glacier where we found ourselves cutting steps into solid ice, meandering through 30ft deep crevesses (less than 1mt wide), climbing over ice walls with bottomless pits below & crawling through natural ice caves. A truly fantastic experience. As the sun shone down, our lunch consisted of all of us sitting atop the solid ice (Using our crampons for stability) & being joined by a curious Kea (The worlds only true Alpine Parrot) scavenging for scraps. From here the views of our taken track below were breathtaking. We had quite literally zig zagged our way through this massive glacier, by any means possible. Our way back down was much quicker and as we were informed that the glacier was shrinking every year, we could only laugh. Every time we turned around, the 3 Asian girls in our group were doing nothing but eating the ice and snow. (No wonder the glacier is shrinking).

That evening in Franz Josef, a long hot shower was followed by a
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Posing for the camera in an ice crevess.
visit to a small mountain lodge bar, with a natural timber log interior, where we sat in front of a roaring open fire and took advanage of a very good few happy hour drinks. Needless to say, we were nicely toasted at the end of another exilerating day.


Additional photos below
Photos: 27, Displayed: 23


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PunakaikiPunakaiki
Punakaiki

Natural rock bridge formation
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Franz Joesf Glacier

The Kea that joined us for lunch
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Franz Joesf Glacier

Gemma makes her way through the ice crevess.
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Buller Gorge

Walking the swingbridge.
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Buller Gorge

The road carved into the mountainside.
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Franz Josef Glacier

Ste in one of the ice caves.
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Fox Glacier

Reflections in the Fox glacier valley.
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Cape Foulwind

A Weka at the seal colony.
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Franz Josef Glacier

Us in one of the many ice crevasses.
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Franz Josef Glacier

The ice on the glacier.


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