Starting Point: Greymouth
Ending Point: Franz Josef
Kilometers traveled: 193
Posted a day late because I was too lazy and it was raining really hard and I didn’t feel like digging out the laptop last night. 🙂
This morning we woke up, had a bit of breakfast, and then hit the road. We had a big day of driving in order to make Franz Josef and we have reservations for a heli-hike on the glacier on Monday morning (it’s Sunday here). We got back on SH6 and headed further south into Alpine country. We stopped off along the way at Ianthe lake to take a few photos and then wasted time and money on a really REALLY lame aquarium/kiwi place in Hokitika. As we drove into the Alps and into the valley leading to Franz Josef, it was gloomy, cloudy, and rainy, but we were very excited to get into town and see the glacier.
We got into Franz Josef around 1:30 and checked in at Helicopter Line, who we are trekking with tomorrow. Then we checked in at the Rainforest Hotel and Camperpark, which is in town so we can easily walk to everything. We settled in, cooked up a bit of lunch (grilled cheese and salami sandwiches with pumpkin soup), and then headed out to wander the town a bit.
We stopped off at Picnic, the European Bakery here in town. Yesterday was donut day at the bakery, which meant that she was selling all the day old donuts for 2 for $2. We bought 4: 2 custard and berry, 1 apple, and 1 lime. They were super yummy, but VERY doughy and needed a little more filling. But that didn’t stop us from devouring them!
Then we hopped back into the Spaceship and headed up to the Franz Josef glacier, just outside of town. It’s about a 30 minute hike from the carpark. It was drizzling as we set off through the valley and headed towards the glacier. And it kept on raining the entire 90 minutes we were out and about. We hiked up to view the terminal face of the glacier. It was cool, but still a bit far off, which always makes it hard to see things.
Many people there were crossing the barrier and wandering up to get a closer look. We were not those people. We’ve spent enough time in mountains and around glaciers to know that you don’t mess with mother nature, especially where falling rocks and ice are concerned. Too dangerous and unpredictable, especially with a glacier like Franz Josef. It has a flow rate of 1.5 to 7 meters, so it’s fast ice. At it’s fastest it is ten times faster than glaciers in the Swiss Alps. As recently as 2009, someone was killed here when they passed the barrier and were struck by icefall. We were content with our far off view today, knowing that tomorrow we’ll be on the glacier with a guide.
It started raining even harder on our way back to the car. We were both drenched by the time we got back to the carpark. We headed back to our campground and packed it in for the night. Currently, we’ve got our pants hanging up on the curtains, drying out. It’s been pouring here all afternoon and evening and it looks like they are expecting more of the same tomorrow. Hopefully our glacier trip will still happen. If not, we’ll try again another day.