Scott and Jenni's Journals

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New Zealand

Franz Josef |

After one night in Greymouth we boarded our bus the following morning to take us down to Franz Josef. We're using a company called Magic Bus to take us around New Zealand and it's really good. Most of the journeys we're making are on average about 5-6 hours long but they make stop offs at places of interest along the way to break up the journey so we can stretch our legs and of course, go to the toilet!
Franz Josef is a tiny little township which is only there because of the massive glacier. It's a really sweet little town but literally only consists of one road! It's also possible for the town to get all of the UK's yearly rainfall in one day! When we arrived in the afternoon we went quad biking which was absolutely brilliant! I chose to ride on the back of Scott's quad bike as I knew I'd be too much of a wimp to go fast on my own. It was fantastic, at one point we were doing 50kmph! We drove through streams and bogs and even through the rainforest where we stopped for tea and biscuits! All very civilised you know! We got covered in mud so afterwards we all had to be hosed down which was fun!
The following day we got up early to go on a glacier hike. Franz Josef Glacier is pretty unique because it is surrounded by rainforest which makes it incredibly picturesque. We opted for a full day glacier hike which in hind sight was probably a wee bit too ambitious! We were all piled onto a bus that drove us to a car park near the base of the glacier but from there we had a 40 minute hike to get to the glacier. This hike wasn't just a stroll along a path either, we had to walk through streams, climb over rocks and even up ladders before we finally got near. This really should have been a warning as to how hard it was going to be! We were given waterproof coats and trousers and special boots with spikes on so that you can grip on the ice. The first part of the glacier was pretty easy to negotiate as there were steps that the guides had cut into the ice but once we got past that we were given ice picks and (following the guide) had to make our way around the massive glacier which wasn't flat but full of huge plunging crevaces - we didn't have harnesses either! Unfortunately I (Jenni) was the 'special case' of the group and was so rubbish and wimpy that I had to be put behind the guide so he could help me - that was slightly embarrasing! Some parts we went through were so narrow that you had to slide sideways through them and we got to go through this big hole that had formed in the ice. It's amazing how blue the ice is. We didn't manage to go right to the top of the glacier as it's too far to go in a day but we did get pretty far up and got a fantastic view of the valley below. On the way back down I had a rather embarrasing incident where I couldn't get my leg up high enough to get up a step so the guide grabbed hold of my wrist and dragged me up on my stomach. It felt like I was swinging around for ages as I couldn't get a grip in the ice. Eventually he managed to pull me up and left me in a heap at the top while he assisted the more 'able bodied' people in our group! It certainly wasn't the most dignified way of getting up the ice!
By the time we got down from the glacier we were all completely shattered but we still had the 40 min trek back to the bus before we could rest! Once we got back we were so tired we couldn't be bothered to cook dinner so we treated ourselves to a big burger in a local restaurant before hitting the sack for a well needed sleep!

Locations Visited: Franz Josef

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