So on Thursday 5th Jan (after a night stop over in Queenstown where I tried the infamous Ferburgers - was okay but I was a little diappointed after al; the hype!!) I got the bus to Franz Josef - home of the large famous glacier!!
The bus took 6.5 hours and we stopped at Lake Wanake on the way which was beautiful. I was booked into 'Montrose Backpackers'. Franz is a very small town literally with a few shops and bars...but a pretty wee place. The hostel was okay, good kitchen and social area etc and lush bathrooms with really powerful showers, yay! I spent 3 mights in Framz, 2 would have been enough but with bus times etc I couldnt just stay two, but I was quite glad of havong a few non rushed days and made the most of my spare time to sort my bag, post some bits home and finally once again do some laundry ha ha!
So on Friday 6th Jan I did the glacier walk!! The tour left town at 8.45am, you have to reallt take a guided tour to walk out onto the glacier etc. People have been killed in the past who have ventured out on theor own its isnt illegal to go yourslef and some tourists do risk it but I opted for the safe option!! U dud a half day tour and it was amazing but in heindsight I would do a full day tour as the time out on the actual glacier was obviously that much shorter. The bus takes you to a car park where you start a walk to the glacier, through rainforest to begin with and then across lot of rocks and stones etc. There was a river flowing down from the glacier which you walked past and could see large chuncks of ice in and you could also hear the the ice crushing against boulders etc. It was about a 40 min climb up to the glacier to get onto the actual ice. Before you walk on the ice they give you 'cramp ons' to put on your hiking bootsto make sure you have grip etc, they are quite scary looking spikes! Walking on the actual glacier was amazingl staff come up early in the morning before any tours and clear paths and chip away making steps etc to make sure it is safe. Apparantly the glacier changes every day and new dangers etc form, so the staff rigorously check and re check these dauly, keeping it as safe as possible. They keep wooden barrels up on the glacier with safety equipement inside, just incase someone falls dwn a hole! Apparantly you have very limted time after falling down before you will literally freeze to death so the staff are al trained in rescue and hauling you out of holes etc! Lots of 'cravasses' form all the time; when the ice breaks and moves etc, big cracks and splots form. We got to climb through some ice caves which was amazing!! Very small and narrow and very very cold! Up there there are lots of N.Z 'kea' parrots which are savenegers really and they know that tourists leave there bags unattended to climb through ice caves etc, so they sit and wait, hoping to find food!!
The geology behind the glaciers baffles me and I really need to read up more to fully understand it all but the guide said that over the next 20 years they will have to move the town of Franz Josef about 10-15 km down the road due to the risk of flooding from the glacier. Scary!
Part of the ticket price for the glacier walk is entrance into the 'Hot Pools' so I did that i the evening to warm up haha!! The pools are set in part of the rainforest and each pool is fed with pure glacier water. There are 3 temperatures; 36,38,40 degrees. A lovely tranquil relaxing place to warm up!
My nights sleep in the dorm here in Franz was probably amongst my worst ever -SNORER!! Such a pain, got very little sleep the first night and then the second was even worse as the snorer developed a cough - so when he was awake he would cough and when we fell asleep he would snore - NOT GOOD! Will be glad to not be sharing a dorm with him anymore!!!
So tomorrow (Sun 8th Jan) I move onto Nelson, for 1 night just and then I wil start my journey towards Fiji, very excited!!