Well we did the Glacier Ice Climbing. We were kitted up in jackets, waterproof trousers, boots, crampons, rucksacks and ice axes, and set about on the 1 hour hike to the foot of the glacier. Once there we walked up the carved steps until our guide decided it was time to head off the track and make our own, much slower, progress up the ice. Once he’d found his favourite wall he set up all the ropes, only to discover the walkers had used it for carving practice! Unperturbed he taught us how to climb the ice by kicking our toes in ensuring our heals were lower than their tows (very counter-intuitive), how to flick the axes so they held in the ice and could be used to balance while shuffling your feet up the ice. In many ways it was more simple than rock climbing as there was no need to search for handholds – but the stakes were much higher as you’d slide quite a distance before the belay lines caught you if you made a mistake.) We all had a couple of goes before moving further up to a much steeper example. On one of these climbs there was a nasty ledge and overhang which everyone struggled on, and an easier, but still vertical, climb. At this point the weather began closing in and we heard reports that the hikers were on their way down. Not wanting to get caught behind them we took a quite tour up the glacier through some blue ice passages (unfortunately we didn’t clear the dirty ice which was a disappointment) before heading down.
The next day we were leaving the glaciers after a quick stop in at Fox (which we couldn’t really see due to torrential rain) and a walk to the Mirror lake (ditto – although we did all get very wet!) The weather did improve through the day though, so on our arrival at Lake Wanaka it was drier and we explored the town and stayed in a very nice hotel. Glorious weather the next morning, so some good pictures of the lake and then we were in Puzzle World, an amazing hour or so with illusion rooms and a giant maze with bridges to keep us entertained.
We arrived in Queenstown with it reputation as the adventure capital of the world in our head, and there definitely is a lot to do here if you’ve got money to burn – lots of bars too! We stopped at the Bungy centre for the free tour and to watch some of our bus people be brave – we didn’t attempt this particular adventure though the New Zealand Rugby League Team arrived to do theres! We did, however, go into te hoody printing store which Mel has been looking forward to since Esther and Rebecca told us about it in Fiji!
We met James King-Turner for a Chinese in the evening and he discussed our options for Milford Sound with us (he’s a skipper there!) and then hit a couple of bars with our bus – culminating in a group rendition of We are the Champions on the karaoke?!
James picked us up the next morning and drove us down to Milford, pointing out various views and stopping for photos at points the busloads of tourists couldn’t get to! We’d decided to do the luxury overnight option – at a greatly reduced price (20 pounds each instead of a hundred) thanks to James – and were not to be disappointed, seeing a leopard seal, a humpback whale not to mention the stunning views, waterfalls and ridiculously high cliffs and getting a beautiful buffet meal. Thanks James!
Love from the country with sloping buses!
Stu and Mel