Glacier walk, Kiwi's and Bee's first helicopter ride
Franz Josef, New Zealand
As we made our way down the west coast the weather became ever more changeable. It turned out this was due to the weather coming into from the west, hitting the surrounding moutains and turning into rain. We knew that NZ was famous for it's changable climate but hadn't expected as much rain as we get back home. Apparently 5m of rain falls every year here. A night in Haast with gale force winds bashing the van in in all directions was a night to remember. It felt like we were literally about to be picked up and moved to the next town over.
The bad weather offered a good opportunity to catch up on some much needed blog updating. The shear amount of things to do had meant that the blog was lagging at least a month behind, as you can see things haven't really improved on that front. (this is currently being written only 2 months late!)
We also had the opportunity to visit a Kiwi rehabilitation center and see two junior Kiwi's up close in a dark enclosure, this would turn out to be the only way to see New Zealand's famous nocturnal bird. It was fascinating to learn about the dwindling numbers of birds which was mainly due to the rise of introduced predators such as Possums and Stoats.
We decided to stay in Franz Josef and take in the magnificent mountain scernery. We hadn't planned on actually taking the glacier tour but like many activites in NZ, once we'd seen the pictures and discussed the possibility we found it very hard to say no. With our wallets significantly lighter we waited a couple of days for the weather to improve and hopped abroad a small commercial helicopter.
This was Bee's first helicopter ride and she couldn't hold back her excitment. The talented pilot had us up on the glacier in a matter of minutes and as we negotiated the icy terrain and stepped out onto the Glacier the majestic view blew us away. We had to wear crampons to negotiate the ice which made us both feel like proper mountain explorers. The glacier unlike many around the world is actually getting bigger year on year.
It was great being able to see all the ice formations up close, although the weather wasn't ideal you could still see the shimmering blue hue as light bounced through the ice. You could almost feel the ice moving and melting underneath our feet. We clambered and slide through ice tunnels as we made our way around the glacier. It wasn't long though before the helicopter came back and we had to make our way back down into town.
It was such a unique way to see one of natures true wonders and we both felt privileged to have been given the opportunity.