Hiking Franz Josef glacier was amazing - definitly one of the 'wow' moments of my trip so far! Its the world's steepest and fastest flowing commercially guided glacier, with the most incredible views all the way up. Once we got kitted up in special clothes to look like clones for the day (!) we made our way out there, first having to trek through rainforest which was so humid and uncomfortable! So worth it, but strange heading from those conditions to ice up at the top! All day we followed Scott, our lovely guide, who told us lots of stories to keep us entertained in the cold, as we trekked over and through the rocky landscape. As Franz is so popular, there are always lots of people up there, and we can't all take the same routes. The glacier changes everyday anyway, but sometimes our guides have to 'carve' out new paths. So Scott hacked away at some ice at one point, climbed up between two slabs of ice, stuck in a bit of metal with some rope attached to it at the top, and asked us to follow him. He assured us no one has ever got stuck before, but most of us did at some point! After the initial awkward climb up using the rope, we had to squeeze through these tall chunks of ice, spaced about a foot apart, or less! Looking through at the beginning was the first time in my life I've ever felt chlaustrophobic, ever! I actually had to turn away and control my breathing again several times! We made it though, and had a good laugh in the end! It was a fun day: having a picnic lunch in the ice, crawling through tunnels and attempting ice/snow-fights! We finished it with some well deserved drinks back at the lodge and a much-needed good night's rest!
The next day was spent travelling to Wanaka where we passed through Puzzling World - kind of a useless, money-taking visit but just a bit of fun. Thats the thing about travelling on the Kiwi Bus - loads of people to have good times with, but plenty of seemingly useless stops you can't avoid. Oh well, not all bad. There were rooms with special effects where your senses got a bit of a hammering - like in one room where you couldn't be sure of actual ground level...so a ball on a leaning pool table drifted upwards towards the hole instead of what you thought was down...really strange. I got a headache in there and have one now just recalling it all! If you didn't want to spend money to go in, you could sit and wait with lots of puzzles and jigsaws, which were actually really hard! I felt like a child again - frustrated at things that seemed so simple to solve! Anyway we arrived in Wanaka in time for a wonder round the cute little ski resort before having a movie night infront of the cosy log fire! Yay! Then it was on to Queenstown - adventure capital of the world!!!
Its such a great town - beautiful, exciting and with brilliant night life! I'd definitely like to come back to ski or something and just spend some more days - I'm kind of running out of time now so had to move on quicker than most people. One day was spent visiting Milford Sound - apparently if you don't visit its like going to Cairo and not seeing the pyramids. Overrated, in my opinion, unfortunately. Just because of the ridiculous cost and time of getting there, considering there is beautiful scenery everywhere in New Zealand, and its free to look at! Our eyes are getting really spoiled now, I have to admit. Not that I'm complaining...Its filled my wonder for nature so much. On Monday I actually went on a four-hour trek to the top of a mountain, for fun! It was steep and hard going up, but slowly we saw more and more snow, and finally made it to the top, for a picnic lunch and the most incredible 360 views of the surrounding mountains and lakes. Wow. It was a perfect day for it too - with not a cloud in the sky! Going down again was funny - somehow I think we lost the trail for a bit, and ended up picking our way over rocks avoiding the rushing streams below our feet, and scrambling down massive, slippery boulders. I actually thought we were really stuck for a moment or two. Worrying! Made it in the end though! And was on such a natural high for the rest of night! Amazing! Especially because that day loads of old friends arrived in Queenstown, some of them completely unexpectedly! And I've also caught up with some friends who made it there before me! So I had one last dizzying night, with the original crew, recent and new friends, partying it up massively! Great!
And now I've moved on...by myself :( I could keep delaying my journey forever, but I know I can't either...So I'm now in pretty Christchurch, and it's a beautiful, sunny, Autumn day. Time to explore! :)