to the elements


Franz Josef Glacier was a bit of an adventure; I'll always think of it as the place our luck ran out. The West Coast was getting a lot of rain, which meant floods, which meant a section of the highway - specifically a bridge - was swept under and unpassable, which meant we didn't manage to reach Greymouth to return our car, and catch the train back to Christchurch as planned. Which meant turning around and driving 10 hours back the way we came. Thank goodness we had a car.

Power was down for part of the day, and phone lines were down for longer, be it land or mobile, not to mention the Internet. It was strange, being dependent on the radio - if you could get it - for news and communication.

Given the state of things, it was no surprise that our original plan to do a glacier trek at Fox Glacier didn't happen - a section of it was flooded.

So we wound up trekking Franz Josef Glacier instead - along with every stranded tourist willing to spend the money, it seemed, which made us a little worried. But happily, it turned out to be surprisingly quiet on the ice.

The tour began rather thrillingly with a heli ride: cue the "Man vs Wild" theme -  


We landed on the ice, strapped on our crampons, and clad like a line of Paddington Bears, toddled off.


When choppers were not whirring over and making a racket, you can hear the sounds of the glacier - the sound of melting ice, water trickling, tinkling, plinking down, carving their way through ice and rock. The weather was changing the whole time we were on the ice - sunny and clear, then grey and cloudy, and everything in between.


A parting shot.


The plan had been to skydive over the glacier as well, but that didn't happen owing to the cloud cover and unpredictable wind. Weather always wins.


hannah-rose said…
Mother nature always seems to choose the most inopportune moment to give displays of power!!

These pictures are incredible, and despite the mishaps and misadventures it sounds like you had an experience you're never going to forget. THis happened to me last week in Germany, too, the drive from Austria over the mountains was closed because of heavy snowfall (And we didn't have chains for the tires) so we ended up having to go around, stopping in every cute little village on the way. It was worth it for the pretzels and gingerbread!


ps. your pictures have made me realise I really should go to new zealand and that it's shameful that I've never been.
lin said…
hannah-rose: I agree "mishaps" can be rewarding on holidays - so long as I don't miss a flight, or at least am covered by the right travel insurance policy!

so many places, so little time! your pictures actually reminded me of how little of germany i've seen. i don't think we'll ever stop feeling "bad" about all the places we've ever been.
When I took my friend around South Island years ago, we ended up stuck in a blizzard towards Greymouth, snowed in towards Lake Matheson and couldn't even get anywhere near Franz Josef. This was April! It was bad. It's a rugged landscape alright with a temperamental weather conditions!
Joy said…
this is so cool and pretty scary. reminds me of the time i was walked on the glacier at lake louis. TERRIFYING. glad things worked out for you in the end.
lin said…
Marlene: Wow, that's definitely way more serious a situation to be in, I guess the West Coast has pretty incredible weather! All things considered, I still got to kill them with a glacier trek so I guess I wasn't that unlucky...

Joy: The trek itself was quite relaxed, actually, haha. Nothing terribly frightening happened to us, just a lot of waiting around for information and uncertainty, and like I said to Marlene, we were pretty lucky on hindsight!
A├»ssa said…
What amazing sights and adventures!

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