26th August Continued…
The afternoon would see us climbing up the Franz Josef glacier that Tori had so recklessly jumped over that morning.
Immediately we were impressed by how organised and prepared we would be for this trek compared to the Tongariro crossing. We were all decked out in matching outfits and hats, weighed (CRICKEY) and then escorted to the helipad!!!
For both of us this would be a first time on a helicopter. It was only a four minute ride but it has ruined travel for us forever! It is the only way to travel. Sitting watching the big beasts swerve in and out of the valley coupled with the guide teasing that the choppers are constantly crashing didn’t really calm our nerves.
There was nothing to be worried about and it really was an amazing experience. The ride is smooth, except for a few moments where our stomachs dropped. I think we all hopped out thinking if we had the money we would be getting our own helicopter.
The first thing that strikes you when you step onto the glacier is that it is clear blue. They are this colour because of the refraction of light through the ice. The glacier is moving between half a metre and a metre a day. It is also retreating at an alarming rate, so much so that they think in 5-10 years the glacier will be gone.
We trekked up the glacier as a group of ten. Most of us had done the Tongariro crossing in some form and so were used to walking in crampons. Unfortunately, I got it wrong…John Wayne wasn’t a cyclist despite the confidence in my voice stating he was. On we shamefully trundled.
Our first obstacle was to climb on our stomachs through an ice tunnel, uphill. The tunnels were so spectacular and though climbing through them was, sometimes, a mission they were still a highlight.
Bex, our guide, patiently waited for us to take as many photos as we possibly could. The sun was shining, the sky was a brilliant blue and the ice twisted and turned to form magnificent shapes.
We passed our time on the glacier exploring this wonderland, predominately peacefully until the ‘waterfall’ section of the glacier starting rumbling and large section of it fell away. ‘Don’t panic, if I start running then you need to run too’. Good advice, Bex.
A final helicopter ride home saw our ice exploring time over. This was now a highlight of our trip.
Drinks with the gang; our new and amazing driver Tutu, Kath, Kathy, Evelyn, Mark, Sam and John and bed.