Ciarán & Elaine's Travelog

Friday, August 11, 2006

Franz Josef Glacier

Leaving Wanaka we drove through Mt Aspiring National Park and over the Haast Pass. Every single corner we turned we saw something breathtaking. The scenery down here is amazing. It feels like we're just driving through postcards, everywhere is so perfectly beautiful from the ice blue colour of the lakes to the golden trees and snowy peaks and waterfalls everywhere - this place is stunning. We had to stop about a thousand times just to get out and look at places like Thunder Creek Falls & the Blue Lakes.

We arrived into Franz Josef and booked into the YHA which felt more like a hotel than a hostel with a fab en suite room and a complimentary sauna (a lot of the hostels have either spa pools or sauna's here). The next day we drove to Fox Glacier and Lake Matheson which is famous for being the most reflective lake with Mt Tasman & Mt Cook in the background. It was a really lovely walk around the lake even though the ducks did disturb the reflections slightly!

The next day was the main event - a hike up Franz Josef Glacier. This is possibly the best thing we've done or seen since we left home. It was absoloutely amazing to climb up the glacier with our Talonz strapped to our hiking boots (although quite tough too!) and to explore the ice caves, crevases and ice walls with our guide hacking out new ice steps with his pick the whole way. It completely blew us away to see the size of the glacier, the bit that you can see in the photos is only about 5% of it, it stretches back about 11 km's and in places is 1/2km deep. The guide told us that it moves about 5 metres every fortnight and can get up to 140metres of snow on it every year, one day last February it moved 7 metres. It's sitting right on a fault line and they reckon that a quake is long overdue - wouldn't fancy being on it if that happens...

Words or photo's can't describe it, it was an experience of a lifetime.


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