After a rainy few days down the West Coast, we made it to Franz Josef, where we also caught up with our friend Jay, who had been a couple days ahead of us since Taupo. Tom was happy to finally have some male company again – not that he didn’t love being one of the girls.
As it was our first night in Franz Josef we got a deal of all you can eat pizza and a beer for $15. Now, I’m not sure who pitched the idea, but Tom and I decided to have a “friendly” pizza eating competition, to see who could eat the most. The loser would have to buy the winner a beer, and if we drew, we both had to do a jager-bomb (which is my worst nightmare).
What started as a casual “lets just see who can eat more” quickly turned into a fight to the death to see who came out champion. Tom made the fatal mistake of having a few too many chips and slices of garlic bread before the competition even started – amateur. I went for the tactic of speed, as in – eating as much as I could before my stomach realised it was full.
19 slices down I was proclaimed champion, and earned my reward of a beer – which I couldn’t even stomach because I was so full. Only then to be given a “reward” of a jager-bomb from Helly for winning, which tipped me over the edge and I had to go to bed after. NEVER AGAIN.
The following morning Grace and I hiked off the pizza with our main event of Franz Josef, the ice explorer hike. We got really lucky with the weather, and were the first group to go out onto Franz Josef glacier in over 3 weeks! Baring in mind this was supposed to be the middle of summer…
I stupidly left my memory card for my camera in my laptop, so had to take pictures on my phone… but it did the job. We had to get a helicopter up to the glacier, which was so cool as I’d never been in one before, so this was an experience in itself.
We were dropped off on the glacier where we had to attach our crampons to help us walk on the ice. This was very different to the experience I had had in Bolivia, felt a lot safer here haha.
Once we were firmly in our crampons, we grabbed our poles and were ready to go.
The guide told us how much the glacier was retreating each year due to a warmer climate, so the edge of the glacier would have been much, much further out just a few years before. Crazy to think that in a few years, it would be so much less.
We began our hike around the glacier; as we were the first group up for so long, it was slow going as our guide had to literally carve out a path for us to walk along… but it was cool to think we were the first ones walking along it.
We got to walk through small gaps along the ice, and walk past crevasses, which was pretty cool
Where the ice was so tightly condensed together it looked blue.
At one point we even got to climb through a naturally formed ice cave, which was so cool.
As well as some “stairs” which the guides had dug out for us, which we had to be pretty careful with in case we slipped!
You may notice in the previous photo the sky was looking pretty ominous. We did ask what would happen if we got stuck up on the glacier if the helicopter couldn’t fly… and apparently they had brought provisions for us all “just in case”!
We made our way back down to the pick up point, for some last snaps of the glacier, before flying back down to the town.
The afternoon consisted of a little nap for Grace and I as we had been up so early, whilst waiting for Tom, Jess and Leigh to get back from their skydive! In the evening we caught up with a couple of other friends, Sophie and Fady, where a game of killer pool commenced for our last night in Franz Josef.