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Archive for April, 2009

I have been slacking a little on the updates. Probably because this blog was a way for my family who doesn’t have Facebook to see all my pictures of my trip and so far, I’ve managed to show most of my family pictures. However, I did promise myself I’d keep updating this so I have a well-rounded journal on my trip. So here goes!

I last left off in the middle of New Zealand so I’ll continue with that! One of my most favourite things of my entire trip was the Franz Josef glacier hike. It was unbelievable. This is a glacier that sits right next to a tropical rainforest and is one of three in the world to do so. The other one is about 5km down the road from it and the third is in …Brazil? I believe.

The glacier itself is about 12km long, running up a gorge. Of course, it has, in the many thousands of years it’s been there, been the one to carve out this valley. It has, at some points, been as long as 15km. Every year it gets about 80 feet of precipitation falling on it, which is quite a lot. So much so in fact that the average time it takes the ice to move from the top of the glacier to the end is only an 8-year cycle. That’s pretty fast for a glacier.

With the Franz Josef glacier, you can choose from 3 hikes. One is an hour hike, one is a half-day hike and the other is a full day. Of course, everyone wants to do the full day hike. So it’s important to book ahead, weary travelers! Luckily, because we traveled with Kiwi Experience, they have a certain number of spots set aside so we only need to decide the day before whether we want to do it or not. But anyone not traveling with a tour, I would recommend booking your tour as early as possible to guarantee spots.

The full day hike is an 8 hour event. Now, only about 6 of those hours is spent on the actual glacier but it still seems like a long time to be standing on ice. Fear not, it goes by quickly! In the morning, you get a quick little video of the hike and the rules, then get your gear. Not sure if I mentioned it but you get hat, gloves, coat, pants, boots and crampons (the little metal that goes on the bottom of your boots so you don’t go flying on the ice). All you need to provide are non-jean pants or shorts and 3-4 layers on top. You should be good to go then!

Our guide’s name was Jason. He was very …interesting. Young – only 18 so I’m pretty sure he was the youngest of our group! He enjoyed telling dead baby jokes, which I was very amused about. But he was good at his job and made sure we were all safe. There are ‘features’ – as they call them – on the glacier that the guides like to wind the group’s way up to and around. These features only last a week or two, on average, before they fall or melt away which means if your friends do it at another point in time, they will most likely see the glacier from a different viewpoint than you. It’s neat.

Anyway, enough ramble about the hike. I highly, highly recommend it. It honestly was one of the best things I did in the 6 months I was away. It’s a little expensive ($100 or $150 NZD I believe) but definitely worth every penny. Onto the pictures!

Also, I promised my friend I’d do a shout-out on a blog for him. He’s never had one before! But I can’t mention his name so I’ll just call him Hockey Boy. Hey, Hockey Boy! SHOUT OUT!

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