Day 30: Franz Josef Glacier

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Our plan today had been to take a helicopter up onto the glacier and then have a three-hour hike on the ice, but the weather put a stop to that! The clouds were very low today, and the guides said the helicopters had not been able to land for several days, so they didn’t even know if the tracks were still intact (the glacier moves all the time). So disappointing. 

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Had to find something else to do, so we opted for quad biking for two hours instead. Thankfully, we were the only two customers, so I didn’t have to do much ‘racing’. After a brief learning session, we headed off through rain forest, mud, gravel tracks and river beds. It was really hard work steering and our arms ached the next day.

Since we had come all this way to see the glacier, we decided to walk along the track to the bottom of Franz Josef Glacier. At first sight, the area looks overwhelmingly grey, but on closer inspection there was a large variety of tiny plants living on the rocks.

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There is water in all its forms here; liquid, solid and gaseous! Waterfalls everywhere, and the thundering sound of hte glacier river which you can hear even when you cannot see it. And, a surprising amount of ice brought down in the river. I tried to get Lawrence to hold a piece of ice and point to its source, put the melted water kept running up his arm and put a stop to that plan!

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If you look very very closely at the centre of the photo below, you can see the whiteness of the rushing melt water underneath the solid blue ice of the glacier.

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« Day 29: To Franz Josef Glacier

Day 31: To Christchurch on Trans Alpine Scenic train »

© Helen Gray 2020