Conquering Franz Joseph Glacier
Arrived in Franz Joseph on Saturday climbing the glacier on Sunday. It was pretty exciting stuff. After getting ready at the tour place, a bus drove us 10 mins to the place and then we saw the glacier. It looked a lot smaller than I imagined but this was an optical illusion caused by the giant mountains either side and it was in fact 2.5 kilometres away. After spiltting into the faster group, we approached the daunting ice monster. It was not as white as I had imagined due to rocks and 'rock flour' laying on parts of the glacier after having fallen on there years before nearer the top.
The glacier moves between 1 and 8 metres per day and descends to just 250 metres above sea level.
After attaching our 'Talonz' (pioneered by the tour company) to our boots, we started our ascent. The guides had been working all morning to create steps in the glacier so we could climb up the steep icy hills. Got to a flatter part of the glacier and were given our own ice picks. We continued through crevices which could be quite a squeeze and walked and jumped over chasms. The ice was a brilliant blue colour and waterfalls were parading down the sides of the mountains, running under the ice.
We got as far up as we could after 4 hours and then started our descent when a torrential downpour started. This made getting back down incredibly difficult as the churned up ice created by the ice picks was constantly washed away so it was like walking on black ice; incredibly slipery even with
the 'Talonz'. Anyway, made it back OK and had a spa back at the hostel and free hot soup. Really amazing stuff and so interesting to find out how the glacier works.
Headed to Wanaka on Monday and went to Puzzling World which has the world's first 3D maze of its type. We had to find all four coloured corners in order and then get to the exit. It was so confusing and ended up going in circles at times. Walkways went over the maze which we had to cross to access other parts of the maze but made it more confusing. Eventually managed it in just under 1 hour and then went to the illusion rooms which were really bizarre.
One 6 sided room was full of faces which appeared to all be looking in my direction which was really spooky. Another room was tilted at 15 degrees yet your brain is convinced the room is not sloping so its very easy to fall
over. Therefore, pool balls roll uphill, people lean over at funny angles etc etc. Really cool place!
Got to Queenstown on Monday and it's really beautiful here. Probably the nicest place I have been to in NZ so far. Went up in some cable cars for amazing views of the town and then onto the Luge which are like little go karts but bombing down a course. Great fun! Started hailing when we got in the ski type lift up to them.
Headed to Arrowtown where the river sequence in Lord of the Rings was filmed with the Nazgul getting wsahed away. Unfortunately I could not get an exact photo of the place as it was actually filmed in 3 separate locations with 'The Remarkables' mountains superimposed in the background. Recognisable though!
Went to The Bungy Bridge after, apparently the home of the bungy by AJ Hackett. This is not strictly true though as some people in Oxford, UK came up with the idea in the early 80s but only did about 20 metres high and not commercially. 1000 years before this though, and still in effect today, the boys and men of Vanuatu attach vines to their ankles and leap off a tower as a 'passage of rites'. Not as safe as a bungy though as dislocated ankles and even death are a lot more common. Saw a few people doing the bungy which was exciting.
The Kawarau River runs under the bridge and this was used in the Lord of the Rings as the River Anduin where the 'Pilars of the Kings' were computer generated on to the sides of the gorge. It was also a lot smaller than it appears in the film.
Anyway, leaving to Te Anau today on the way to Milford Sound. We are staying there for 2 nights in a log cabin which is the part of the hostel.
Decided that I'm not going to do anymore tours as they are way too expensive but there's not much else I want to do here apart from a walk in the North Island which is free. The extreme sports are tempting but I can do them again some other time.
May and try and get a job in NZ cash in hand. There are plently about apparently. Ideally, I would like to work here in Queenstown but it's hard finding lifts here and I do not want to pay to travel by bus. Slowly getting used to NZ although there are way too many tourists here and it's hard to do anything on your own for free. It's even worse than parts of Oz's East Coast. Really really expensive here too so I am cutting down on my chocolate milks and wine. Only been drunk once since my Birthday but then the people I'm travelling with are complete dullards.