Fox Glacier and Franz Joseph – Wednesday 15th February 2012


As the curtain opens, we draw a sigh of relief that the sun is shining and there are patches of blue sky. Fox Glacier looks bluer today. We are given heavy hobnailed boots, a raincoat for John and a backpack for me and we dismount the coach at the foot of the glacial valley.

This, of course is the path we have trodden before (on Monday) but at its end, we climb stone stairs and begin our ascent onto the glacier itself.

It is blackened with the chips of stone, which it has been carrying and grinding for years, but beneath its surface, shines a blue. Fox Glacier guides spend their day with an ice pick cutting stairs in the ice for half day trippers.

We pick up a pole, strap on our crampons, before setting foot onto the ice itself.

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In places it gushes with melt water, it’s surface irregular, pitted with rocks and stones ground from the mountain.

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The water is pure enough to drink freely. The ice has been sculpted into beautiful ice caves and caverns. Some big enough for us to climb into, others simply beautiful in that special ice blue.

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In places large crevasses open, or pools of water lie by our feet. I take the opportunity to push my pole down one and am horrified to see it disappear by nearly a meter and still no resistance. I pull itback hastily!
Maybe, we don’t get far in one half day treck, and it was not actually too taxing physically, but I am so glad we did this.

In the afternoon, we drove to Franz Joseph to see their glacier. It is much further from the car park, much steeper to access and climbs more steeply. And it was raining!

We had left Fox in glorious sunshine, here it poured with rain. I am keen to keep John dry as he is still coughing quite a bit, we take a short walk up a hill to a viewpoint and then drive into town, but I am not excited by it, so we drive back home. As we enter our own valley, the sun shines again, so we walk down to Lake Matheson and back to a lovely restaurant, where they serve great cappachinos. The scenery is beautiful. We stay on for a beer, watching the sun and clouds move gracefully over the mountains.

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Back at the motel, we see a rainbow from the window. It’s been a wonderful day!

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