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My Long Awaited 'Round the World' Trip

Onwards & Upwards to the Fantastic Franz Joseph Glacier

NEW ZEALAND | Tuesday, 16 December 2008 | Views [478]

We left Greymouth nice and early in the pissing rain to stop off at Lake Matteson which is the most stunning mirror lake which sadly was not worth even bothering with as there is nothing to see when it is raining so we just had coffee at a nice little cafe instead.  The journey to Franz Joseph entailed a couple of pretty stops to see some more of this amazing country and we arrived at about 12.30 in time to sign up for our half day Glacial walk.  As we were only set to head out at 3pm we got checked into our nice little YHA & then hopped on the bus for some internet time (there is an internet cafe in a bus which is pretty cool).  At 3pm sharp we sat waiting in anticipation for what could be a pretty cold and wet walk/hike up the glacier.

We had a rather cute Englishman with gorgeous twinkly eyes from the west country in charge who got us geared up with our waterproof stuff, socks, gloves, beanies, hiking boots and crampons & then herded into the bus for our journey to the car park about 2.5km's from the glacier.

The walk went at a relatively quick pace and in my fairly unfit state found it pretty hard going with my heavy boots & gear but I wasn't giving up any time soon so onwards and upwards we continued.  The normal route would have been straight up to the glacier but as there had been an issue the previous week with a landfall or similar we had to go around which entailed a shortish hike up into the rainforest & then back down again to the base of the Glacier.  How exciting and scary to get to go up on the ice.  We all got our crampons fitted and as mine were in fact the wrong size scrummy Mr Brit had to fix them and then tied them too to save time - I did rather like the personal attention :-)  We divided into two groups (slow and fast) so I naturally chose the slow group which was led by a newish guy called John who came with scrummy Mr Brit.  My day was made :-)  The walk up was pretty hard going at times and quite scary as I was not used to the crampons and walking on ice and some of the 'stairs' that had been cut into the ice were fairly steep which were mosly OK as they had rope to hang onto but there was one set that was rope free that freaked me out a little but I just went super slow and hoped that this was not going to be a bad stair day which thank goodness it was not. 

The walk up was particulary hard going on the muscles in my thighs but as you do I just kept pushing on and the view once we got up as far as we were going on the 1/2 day was pretty darn amazing.  The colour that came up from the water below was a beautiful Turquoise blue that we could see here and there and was just an amazing experience. 

After traipsing around on the Glacir for about 5km's in all I am told we headed back down to the carpark in the rain which took us through to about 8pm.  That was definitely the hardest hike that I have done & by the time I got onto the bus after a near fall down one part of the glacier (luckily the girl I instinctively grabbed onto to steady myself didn't go flying) & a kinda fall in the rain forest (I was holding onto one of the rope handrails so no major issues) I was absolutely finished.  I knew at that point that the decision not to do the Tongariro crossing was in fact a good one because I just don't think I would have made it.  I did however have the greatest nights sleep and would highly recommend the hike rain or shine to anyone heading in that direction.

Brilliant brilliant brilliant - of course I can say that now that it is all finished and klaar and just an amazing memory :-)


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