The deep south - part 2
One of the impressive things about the west cost of New Zealand's south island is how much the scenery changes. Driving south you can have ocean views to your right and lake and mountain views to your left at the same time.
Leaving Okarito to make the short drive to the town of Franz Josef, the best of these views occurs, as the mighty Franz Josef glacier comes into view. The glacier and town are so called because of an Austrian explorer called Haast, who got there just before us plucky Brits in 18-something, and in exchange for a von before his surname, named the glacier after the emperor of Austria. (Not that our Brit explorers would ever stoop so low: "I name this lake/mountain/town/river/park/newsagents in honour of Queen Victoria".)
Having secured lodging in (you guessed it) a really nice hostel for very little money, I set off on a glacier hike. Nat had done one before, so I was on my own (apart from the rest of the hike group). I quickly realised as we approached the icy mass that I hadn't been entirely sure what a glacier was. Turns out it's a moving (albeit slowly) mass of ice that forms as snow compacts on the top of the two mountains it runs between. It is melting very slowly, but should be around for quite a while yet. Anyhoo, the hike itself was tiring but really worth it, purely for the strange experience of climbing up a mountain made of ice that actually drips around you. The change in temperature is a bit sudden too, as you climb up. Reminded me of my days working in the frozen food section of Kwik Save in Wallasey (but without so many No Frills Fish Fingers).
That evening I got a haircut. I've been carting my clippers around the world with me for months and having only used them once I didn't feel like I was getting value out of them. I was ready to bin them soon after though, when the number 3 attachment fell off and gave me a premature bald spot that I had to cover with a hat for a week afterwards.
Upon leaving Franz and my hair behind, we headed to Wanaka, a very nice lake town where we did a bit of cycling and very little else. Guess what? The hostel was really nice and cheap as well.
From Wanaka to the ski resort of Queenstown for the weekend next, where we decided to jump off a perfectly good mountain with parachutes on our backs.