Arthur's Pass to Franz Josef, Queenstown and Doubtful Sound.
19.12.2005 24 °C
So fresh off the plane from Northland and about 6 hours sleep later we boarded Peter's SUV headed for Franz Josef. Famous for the glacier named after the Austrian emperor of the time by Herr Haast ( apparently it was said to resemble his long flowing beard...and Hasst had named far too many things after himself anyway !! ) we, well Peter ( Tracey's father )actually , drove the 6 hours or so by way of Arthur's Pass & Hokitika ( and a Greenstone shop ) over ( literally ) to FJ.
We arrived with about an hour or so to spare and after a quick lunch we were off to climb the glacier. Reporting to our guides and promptly being kitted out with all the climbing gubbings we boarded the bus which ferried us up towards the glacier's terminal face. A 2km hike or so we'd reached the glacier and it was time to don our Ice Talons ( removable crampons which fit over your boot soles ) and mount the glacier.
I think it was at this point that it dawn on Tracey and Sheryl ( Tracey's mum ) that this might not be the "walk" they'd expected. Climbing through and up the ice face, and over crevasses for the next 45 minutes of so we'd reached the limit of our excusion, further than most groups apparently because ours was a small one. To be honest words can't really descibe the view, the experience or the sense of achievement to get where we did.
I really felt at home on the ice and was well up for progressing further, but sadly we had no more time. I can't remember when I'd had so much fun !!
A 45 minute descent and the 2k walk back to the bus wasn't exactly welcome by any of us, neither were the aching bones, joints and muscles the next day either !!
..pushing on to Queenstown
Next day it ws a reasonably early start for the trip to Queenstown via Haast and Wanaka. Peter, again enjoying the climbs and descents was chaffeuring and we reached Wanaka at lunch time for a sandwich. After a short break and photo stop it was on to Queenstown which arrived after about 2hrs and a breif stop to watch those Japanese nutters at AJ Hackett throwing themselves off a bridge attached by an elastic..and the bravest young lad, just over the age and weight limit ( aged 10 ) who was watched from the sideline by his seemingly unconcerned parents !!