I’ve been falling behind with it being my last few weeks in New Zealand 😦 It’s so crazy to think how quickly time has gone by! Again, I’ll continue to try my best at keeping up with my blog posts. Day 7 is day 2 of our time in Franz Josef, which is one of my favorite places in New Zealand! 🙂 Today was also the day I experienced 3 new things I haven’t before. Getting up bright and early, Diana and I went to a building, waiting patiently for our guide to come out. I can’t believe that we were going to climb a GLACIER! I’ve been snowboarding and skiing before, but never have I climbed up a glacier! I was super excited to do this because I’ve heard so many great things about the Ice Explorer in Franz Josef! Plus, these glaciers may not exist within the next 20 years, so it is kind of a once in a lifetime opportunity.
While waiting for our guide, Diana and I realized that we were the only ones wearing open-toes shoes. The only people. We definitely did NOT know what we were doing… but it’s all good, because we had to take off our shoes anyway when we got into the boot room. We got into the boot room and put on our glacier gear. We got weighed and then we were given a small bag for personal belongings. I had a little trouble putting all of my things in, but then Diana told me I could leave my shoes out (thank heavens because there was just no way). Ready to go, we walked through some forest, across a road (in which our guide almost got ran over!), and then to a field where helicopters would be landing and taking off. To be honest, I don’t think I have ever been even near a helicopter before, let alone ride in one, so this was a first for me! The force from the propellers were very strong. I grew with so much excitement and fear, knowing I would be on a helicopter soon! After all of the rules, we finally were on a helicopter! We were able to put on legit head phones and saw Franz Josef from up above. The helicopter was pretty loud, so conversations didn’t really happen.
After viewing some amazing sights from above, we finally landed onto a glacier. Now, I must mention that we were also the first group of the day to go out onto the glacier, which meant that the hike would be more challenging. Challenge accepted. This also meant that there was no trail because every day, glaciers move, ice changing, weather, etc. I felt kind of badass taking on ‘Level Hard’. When we landed, we had to put on our cramp ons, which are bindings to help you walk on ice. After tying on the cramp ons, I took my first couple of steps, extremely nervous. My brain knew that I had these cramp ons on, but my body felt like I needed to fall because I was on ice. It was like learning to walk again! Because I was too busy stumbling like a toddler, my mind wasn’t focused on the beauty around me quite yet. Our glacier guide, Cliff, took us around the glacier and challenged us by just expecting us to keep up. It was good practice and soon, I felt cocky. Our group went up stair-like blocks of ice, through sheets of ice, and on top of flatter ice. It was an amazing view and a little bit of a leg workout! You had to stomp pretty hard and your legs had to be shoulder-width apart. With my confidence shining through, I was able to take more photos, view my surroundings, and enjoy New Zealand’s beauty. Here are a bunch more (because I just couldn’t stop taking photos! Plus it’s hard for me to choose just a few!):
Aren’t glaciers amazing?! 🙂 I also learned that the bluer the ice, the denser it is. Cliff put it as, ‘It’s the part where the sun don’t shine as much’. I also learned that glacier ice and ice cubes in a drink are totally different. Maybe it’s all common sense, but I guess I never really thought about ice that much. Living in the Midwest, I always tried to avoid anything related to ice or snow. Along our glacier hike, we also did hear some avalanches, but no worries–we weren’t near that action! Sadly, we had to leave after being out on the ice for about 3 hours. Our helicopter arrived but this time, Diana and I were separated 😥 so here’s a photo to honor that sadness –> Wallowing in sadness, I did snap a few photos from up above, so that was pretty neat! Now, exploring a glacier and being in a helicopter are 2 new things I experienced. I mentioned a third new experience and that happens later on in the evening. After our time on the glacier, Diana and I really needed to get our shit together for the rest of our trip. With no calling minutes or wifi, we had to buy chai lattes and use cafe internet. We also ended up using landline phones from nice front desk people (I love how NZ has such friendly people!). We wanted to explore the ‘wet trails cave’ from the day before, but unfortunately, it started raining! So after buying a few souvenirs and running through the rain, we decided that hikes were out and part II of our Glacier Ice Explorer was in.
Part of the package deal for the Ice Explorer was to enter the spa area for as long as you want! Of course we wanted to strip to almost-naked and dip ourselves into not one, not two, but THREE different spa pools with varying temperatures! How fancy is that? Unfortunately, I didn’t get any photos of this place, but it was absolutely amazing! It was misty and had a mystical feel to it. Trees and large tarps surrounded us with a subtle, romantic glow in the waters and on the walkways. Our relaxing evening was a success, aside from an apparent creeper checking me out according to Diana. Ahh, day 2 at Franz Josef was amazing. I was totally sad to leave Franz Josef, but hey, there is still a lot of excitement I haven’t mentioned, so stay tuned! 😉