#24 - wow! the franz josef glacier

Franz Josef Travel Blog

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The glacier as we approached it!

*****DAY THIRTY-SEVEN (January 8, 2009) - CLIMBING THE GLACIER!*****

I got up VERY early in Hokitika to make it down to Franz Josef for a 9am heli-hike on the glacier.  I was bummed (but not surprised) when the heli-hike was canceled because of bad weather.  :(  So instead, I signed up for a half-day glacier hike.  I figured, hey, I'm here - I'm going on that glacier one way or another!    So, I booked my trip and then decided I needed to figure out a place to stay for the night.  It wasn't that difficult to find all the hostels since they are pretty much all located on the same little street.

That's our group all in blue! They eventually split us up into groups of 13.
  I got a spot at Montrose Backpackers & then I was off to get my Kiwi breakie (yummy poached eggs & a flat white) and wait for the hike!   I was proud of myself for shifting my plans, figuring out my hostel & getting my act together to get on the glacier that day.  It's really the little things while you are traveling that you feel a sense of accomplishment from!  :)

So when it was time to hike, I got in line with 51 other hikers and proceeded to pick up our socks (all of which were wet!  ich!), boots, raincoats & cramp-ons (I was so excited - I had never used those before!).  We boarded a bus and we were off! 

There is a bit of a little hike to get out of the glacier that definitely surprised me.  I think dressed thinking I was going to be freezing up on the glacier, but what I didn't REALLY realize is that I would be HIKING.

..so the few layers of fleece that I had underneath the rain coat made me feel like a wrestler tyring to cut weight!  I was SWEATING on my way out there.  It was funny because there was this whole group of college students from the U.S. on my hike as well...and they were all dying of heat as well.  I met some fun people on the hike....Daniel - he was the picture-taking expert,  Caroline - she became my little hiking buddy - I loved talking to her about what she was doing in college, how the trip was going etc (Caroline was an English student & she was on an agricultural trip to NZ with her school...she said she had become a vegetarian on the trip because all they did was go to sheep & dairy farms & she thought it was all so gross...she was funny & I had a lot of fun hanging out with her), and then Maria (who I had a celebratory beer & pizza with when we got back to the hostel).
Wooo hoooo!!!!

So, the hike was AMAZING!  It was really cool to hike up a glacier and do the whole cramp-on thing.  The views were incredible and it was awesome to be surrounded by blue ice.  I had to keep reminding myself that this was REAL and not just a Disneyland ride.  It was so amazing - when we got to the top....there was a HUGE green Kea (an alpine parrot) sitting on the top of a huge piece of ice.  It was beautfiul!  I'm just so bummed I didn't react quickly enough to get a picture of it.  I think Daniel did, I'm going to have to try to track that down. 

The weather held out for most of the hike...we did have some rain, but it seemed very appropriate for the whole experience.

I really loved my day on Franz Josef!  I was SOOO pooped by the time I got back to the hostel (remember I had been up since 6am-ish or so and drove down to Franz Josef that day...it was a long one).  So after Maria and I had our YUMMY pizza at the Blue Ice cafe (nice name, huh?), I CRASHED!!!  I seriously think I went to bed at 9pm.  Such a great day!

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The glacier as we approached it!
The glacier as we approached it!
Thats our group all in blue!  The…
That's our group all in blue! Th…
Wooo hoooo!!!!
Wooo hoooo!!!!
SO nuts that this is real.
SO nuts that this is real.
Our guide explaining cramp-ons.
Our guide explaining cramp-ons.
Woo hoo!  Thats me getting ready …
Woo hoo! That's me getting ready…
Its hard to really show the scale…
It's hard to really show the scal…
Thats where we went!
That's where we went!
BLUE ice!
BLUE ice!
The view back on the valley from u…
The view back on the valley from …
We definitely got rained on!
We definitely got rained on!
Such cool ice formations.
Such cool ice formations.
Thats me & Caroline.  She was a c…
That's me & Caroline. She was a …
Mmmmm....pizza & beer at the Blue …
Mmmmm....pizza & beer at the Blue…
Marie (another friend from the hik…
Marie (another friend from the hi…
Franz Josef
photo by: Vikram