Monday, 12 March 2012

Glacier Country

We arrived in Fox by 3pm, and immediately parked our home and pulled on our hiking gear. The walk to the terminal face of Fox Glacier takes around an hour over uneven terrain and through a couple of streams.

Standard NZ summer weather resumed

Yes we did get wet feet!
Fox Glacier is the longest glacier in New Zealand at 13km long with a neve, the snow collecting 'top', 36 square km, bigger than Christcurch! The terminal face itself is huge but prone to dangerous ice falls so the viewing area is over 100m away and no one is allowed on the ice without a guide.



Terminally Cheesy

Vertically challenged

We walked home and drove into Fox Township to book our hike for the next day. Fox isn't a big town, and judging by the two tourist info centres we went into, it doesn't have a school as the level of comprehension was so low it made Ozzy Osbourne look like Einstein. So we carried on to Franz Joseph - just 22km down the road.  I say down the road, it was more like up over the top of the mountain and back down the other side.

The next day we woke up to a terrible re-occurance of weather-tourrettes. The curtains were opened and the sky observed.  What followed was a tirade of language that would make Gordon Ramsey blush.

So as our trip was postponed due to early cloud and rain, we decided to make the journey back to Fox and beyond to Lake Matheson - 'the finest view in the west'.

It was amazing - even in the cloud!

As we could see the top of the mountains again, we were optimistic that our trip would be back on in the afternoon.

Fox Glacier in all of her glory

Wrong. All trips cancelled all day.

So our hiking gear came out and we headed to Franz Joseph! An hour and a bit of hiking through flatish terrain (with bridges over streams this time)

The glacier was named after Austrian Emporer Franz Joseph in 1865 by Julius Van Haast. Franz is smaller than Fox at only 11km long, but it is much steeper. It travels at 2 meters per hour, 33% faster than Fox and ten times faster than any other glaciers in the world.  This is due to both the steepness of the glacier and the fact that the neve is 2300m above sea level and the terminal face is located at just 230m above sea level in lush temperate rainforest!

Dirty Franz
The rock 'dirt' in the glacier is due to both the recent earthquakes in NZ as they have dislodged a lot of loose rock, and also because of the level of erosion being huge due to the speed of the glacier, meaning rock is literally swept up and carried by the ice.
A guided group on Franz (middle)

Not the most comfortable seat we've ever had! 

Cool stripes 

After walking to the terminal, we decided to walk the other route around the park as we had time on our side. We were rewarded with a lovely pond with the tiniest little strip of blue sky and a pleasant forest walk to the river.

Spot the blue! 

Wait for me! 

Lierally went nowhere! 

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