Suited up ready to go for a trek on the ice
It is not every day that you get to hike up a glacier, walk through towering crevices of blue ice, surrounded by mountains and waterfalls. Looking down from above at the slow moving river of ice towards rainforests and beyond to the Tasman sea. Unique. A pleasant walk through the glacial valley, getting to know Alberto, the sweet innocent Spaniard who followed me round New Zealand (hehe I know he might be reading this!) We had been told that today was going to be pretty physically demanding and, with seven months of non-stop travel constantly catching up with me these days, I opted myself in to one of the ‘slow’ groups. I shouldn’t have worried though as the hike really wasn’t as challenging as I had expected.
The first climb up over the terminal moraine, the huge pile of rocks deposited at the bottom of the glacier, was without a doubt the most difficult part of the hike.
After donning our waterproof clothing, complete with crampons, (studded shoes designed for gripping the ice), the hike was pleasurable rather than enduring. Actually, I loved every minute of this unique experience. Every few minutes or so our guide Amy would stop and hack away at some ice to keep our paths relatively clear. This made the hiking even easier as we were stopping for breaks all the time. Actually we the slow group kept catching up with the ones ahead of us so we had even more rest breaks! Local laws do not allow more than 12 people together on the glacier at any time for aesthetic reasons. I guess the guys taking the scenic flights over the glacier do not want to see big groups of hikers.
After climbing up, sometimes using ropes and steps, sometimes doing the ‘Franz shuffle’ where the path was too narrow, we arrived at some deep ice crevices at the top.
From the top
The best bit of the hike! Some parts of the crevice were so narrow that more foot shuffling and sliding along through was required- imagine something like walking like an Egyptian! Absolutely amazing and we laughed a lot at our slipping and sliding and squeezing through gaps in the ice. I will let my photos tell the story of this unforgettable experience, definitely one of my NZ highlights. Back at the hostel yet another sad goodbye to Pauline (France) and Margit (Germany) who had entertained me on the bus. They were heading straight on to Queenstown
and I was hoping that i would bump into them again somewhere on the road.