2008 01 19 – Big Trip – Day 263 – New Zealand – Franz Josef Glacier

Top 10 Holiday Park, Franz Josef Glacier, South Island, New Zealand 7072km

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A tiny tunnel, Franz Jozef Glacier

Yesterday started late and lazy for us, after all of us went to sleep well past our bedtime. The sun was shining brightly and we took the kids out to run around the playground for a while. Around noonish we drove a few km to Lake Matheson, and were deeply disappointed. The forest hike to the lake was pleasant, but the supposedly blue water was brownish, there was no reflection of Mt Cook because the wind was rippling the water, and some dead animal created a terrible stench. We couldn’t even see Mt cook because the mountains were covered in clouds.

We drove half an hour to Franz Josef and once again on a gravel road towards the glacier. The sunny weather of a few hours ago was replaced by wind and clouds and a short walk to a Pete’s Pool was enough for the day. If you are wondering about the galciers’ names – Fox was named by then NZ PM Sir Edwin Fox after himself. And Franz Josef in the 1860’s by an Austro-Hungarian explorer, after the Kaiser.

This morning I left the family behind for a few hours and went ice walking with one of the local guide companies. They provided jackets, boots and crampons as well as guiding you around the ice. I opted for the helihike option, which took us from town on a 6 seater Squirrel chopper on a 10 minute flight to the middle of the glacier. We landed about 4km up the glacier and the views were incredible.

The walk was rather easy, with the young guide using his ice axe to pave a path for us wherever there was a bit of a slippery slope. We enjoyed amazing views and got up close to all those crazy ice sculptures. We even crawled through a small blue cave. One daring swimming teacher even plunged into a glacial pool of water. The sun was shining brightly and every few minutes we could hear and see another chopper flying by. Big day for the business when the weather is this good.

When I got back to the campground Paola was finishing the last of the laundry. We had lunch and all took a nap before the afternoon activities. We drove back to the glacier and did a few short walks to viewpoints of the terminal face. But we didn’t get as close as with Fox, because the trail here was longer and more difficult to do with a stroller.

We finished the day off with a meal at an Indian restaurant before returning to the campground for our last night on the west coast.

Tomorrow we head to Arthur’s Pass and then onwards to Christchurch.

Good night,


One Response to “2008 01 19 – Big Trip – Day 263 – New Zealand – Franz Josef Glacier”

  1. Matilde says:


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