Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Land of the Long White Cloud

New Zealand , March 2007 Celias View

So its March. In Australasia. Curt and I are desperate to get away for 10days to some little tropical island but unfortunately everywhere and I mean everywhere is raining.

Fiji? In the middle of a cyclone. Hawaii? 7 day forecast of thunderstorms, Darwin, Cairns, Whitsundays? Rainy season. Soloman Islands, New Caledonia? Pretty much closed for the season.
So in the end we turn our eyes to somewhere a little different. Which is how we ended up in Christchurch on New Zealands South Island last weekend.

I was a bit worried about the flight but it went perfectly and we arrivied late into a little tiny toy town which is Christchurch. We had a cruisy day, hanging in the park nothing amazing, eating yummy food before we picked up our car and heading west to Glacier country.

This scenery was incredible! Seriously...we have both been blown away by the sheer size of the mountion ranges we have passed through and how incredibly beautiful and untouched they are.Parts of the scenery reminds me of Canada but its even more empty, more stark.

One cool thing we discovered about the South Island is that its pretty much devoid of any kind of animals but that there used to be a bird, a flightless bird here that was 3.5m high and used to just graze in paddocks like a cow.

I have spent almost the entire trip so far wishing it was still alive and that I could just look out the window at huge crazy looking birds as tall as houses hanging out and fighting each other. Way better than cows.

Hokitika and a special symbol....
On our way down in into Glacier country Curt and I passed through Hokitika which is famous for its jade and bone maori carvings. We bought each other the maori design, Koru, which is a single twist Jade carving.

In the Maori culture , the Koru symbolises " the joining together of two people for eternity. Even though they sometimes move away from each other on their own journeys, they will always come together again sharing their lives and blending to become one. It tells how the strength of bond of friendship, loyalty and love will last forever"


Being complete amteurs and slack backpackers, Curt and I hadn't even considered the weather when we signed up for a Ice trek on the Franz Josef Glacier. The Franz Josef Glacier is a very strange , very cool glacier on the the south islands west coast. Its huge and basically runs all the way from very tips of the snow capped southern alps right down to the temperate rainforest where the little town of Franz Josef is.

Now to get some idea of the scale we are talking about here, take a look at the picture on the right.

You can just make out the little people trekking up the glacier yes?

Well if you look directly behind then theres a brown patch, then another brown patch and then a lighter grey patch? The lighter grey patch is about twice the height of the Eiffel tower

So the glacier is big but its cool and we were both looking forward to trekking up it. We had decided against the helicopter rides to the top and had settled for a simple 4 hour climb. We geared up , got used to our spiked shoes and gathered behind our guide and her big ice pick. By this time it had already started to rain but we stupidly thought it would pass. NO such luck. It bloody well rained and by rained I mean a non stop thunderstorm for the entire 4 hours we wandered over the ice. The conditions were so bad that it meant every two steps took ten minutes as the ice was extremely slick and dangerous and there was also a really nasty wind coming in.

So basically kids, Glacier very cool and all, saw some amazing caves and shelves but being rained on for four hours, moving four inches every ten minutes and having ice and hail blow into your eyes and being basically freezing is pretty damn hideous !

Somewhere around the third hour when all the people who had gone on longer hikes then us were being pulled off the mountion early Curt and I were started to get very very frustrated. We were making up chants more or less to the tune of get us off the f**king ice. About this time, this mad gush of black water starts surging down from a waterfall high on the canyons side. Something higher up had been dislodged in the storm and was sending this huge rush of black water down the slope. This meant we couldnt go back the way we came as it was now a river....which meant ..thats right kids...more time on the ice!

We finally made it down and back to our sauna blessed hostel and got straight into red wine, hot punpkin soup and lying around in bed.

Powered by Blogger

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]