08.08.2007 - 11.08.2007 0 °F
I stopped at Franz Joseph for 2 days so i could do the glacier trek. I opted for the 2/3rds day trek, which in the end turned out to be the right move. The Franz joesph glacier is a bit of a freak of nature> Over the past few years it has begun to increase not retract.This due to the amount of rainfall they've been getting here. At the moment they've been having 30 metres a year, and we thought we got it bad in the UK
So not supprisingly the weather wasnt good. In fact is was throwing it down. In some way this was good, at least there would be plenty of waterfalls to see. The coach ride from the township was only 10 minutes. Once off the bus we went straight in to the trek, which comprised 45 mins walking through rainforest, 30 minutes walking across moraine and 4-5 hrs treking up and down the glacier.
Climbing the ice involved climbing in spiked books, utilising footholes and steps that were being carved by the guides with pickaxes. Every so often we would come across crevasses which had to be jumped if small or crossed via a narrow bridge if larger (at this point you DONT LOOK DOWN). By contrst walking through crevasses is an experiance. trecking through wall to wall blue ice towering 30 ft or more is great fun.
During the whole of the journey the rain increased, creating small rivers. these would dissappear into ice formed pot holes, which would glug every so often ( like the sound water makes after youve emptied the bath but 10 times louder). It was advised to keep way from these holes, some of these being quite large and meandering through the ice to the bottom undreneath the glacier.
Once at our peak ( the galcier goes on up for 10's of miles) the view down the valley was erie. It was like being on earth millions of year ago, surrounded by rock faces thousand of feet high with cascading waterfalls plumiting down the sides. I'm not sure if the picture below does justice to the view, but in distance you can see the rainforest from where we started
Looking in to the distance, you could forget that there is any sign of human existance whatsoever (apart from the 20 or so dripping wet trekers and 4 guides). It was about then a mist began to drop down, covering the tops of the rockfaces, but this just added to the ambiance of the place. Going back down was alot quicker, but just a trickey, climbing down seamed more awkward than climbing up
We returned back to the coach, exactly at sundown, Either excellent timing by the guide - more pure luck i think.
It was another thing i'll never forget. Totally knackering, cold,wet, scary but Wow
For anyone who is scared of heights the trek is a no goer- for anyone else it should be on the top 5 things to do list whilst in New Zealand
I understand the Fox Glacier, which is nearby is just as breathtaking.
I stopped at the YHA hostel while at franz, which is a pretty damm good hostel and very friendly. The town itself is small (no ATM beware), but there are a couple of good restaurants and bars -so sorted.
(nb For travelling 2 days is only required here then move on, either to fox, or towards Queenstown.)