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Tuesday 5 Mar 2013
Franz Josef, New Zealand

"I'm a random"

After staying longer in Abel Tasman, I had got out of sync with the friends I had made on the Stray Bus so had nobody to share a room with in Franz Josef.  The whole bus crowded into reception and tried to organise themselves into groups of five for the dorms, so I was prepared to wait til the end and fit in wherever there was a space, when an American voice piped up behind me: " Well we are a four, so we just need a random..."  Which was how I met Jen, Lynn, Erica and Jeremy: four American students studying in Sydney, over in New Zealand for their Spring Break.  They turned out to be great company for the next week.

The highlight of any visit to Franz Josef has to be a walk on the Glacier and luckily the weather was in our favour.  The previous few days had been too cloudy for flights, but our day dawned bright and clear.  Last year, part of the terminal face of the glacier collapsed, leaving the remainder unstable, so it is no longer possible to walk up to and onto the glacier from the bottom.  The only way onto the ice now is to fly up in a helicopter... Oh well, if you insist!

We were kitted out in waterproofs, crampons, hat and gloves, then flown up in a steady stream of helicopters for the ten minute flight onto the glacier face.  Our group was lead by an English lad called John, a 21 year old glaciology graduate.  The guides carved ice steps for us with pickaxes as we traversed the crevasses - the girls in the group quite enjoyed that view!  We were able to climb down into a few of the bigger holes and tunnels and use ropes and our crampons to clamber back out.  This was definitely easier for the taller people in the group! I have a huge bruise on my knee for my efforts.  It was amazing to walk around on ice formed hundreds of years ago.  It's surprising how dirty the glacier gets as it picks up rocks and debris on its way down.  The fresh blue ice exposed by the cracks and movements was beautiful to see. I braved taking my SLR camera and got some great photos, despite the dripping water in the ice caves and falling over at the end (I have a bruise for that too).  

After the flight down we all headed up the road to the glacier Hot Pools: Three pools at 36, 38 and 40 degrees, which were absolute bliss for soothing aching muscles and warming cold toes after three hours on the glacier.  Well earned and topped off a thoroughly enjoyable day!

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Zobeedoo's Big World Adventure, Part I

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Marahau Bridges, Abel Tasman

Marahau Bridges, Abel Tasman

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